Specimen size effect in discrete element simulations of granular assemblies

Matthew R. Kuhn, Katalin Bagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Citations (Scopus)


The paper addresses the question of whether the number of particles in a noncemented granular assembly will affect the mechanical characteristics of the assembly: its strength and stiffness. The question is answered by applying the discrete element method to assemblies of different sizes. To isolate the effect of assembly size, apart from the scatter that usually accompanies such simulations, multiple assemblies were tested. The two-dimensional assemblies had nearly identical initial porosities and fabrics, and they were all loaded in biaxial compression. Two different boundaries were tested: periodic and wall boundaries. We find that the peak compressive strength decreases with assembly size for both types of boundaries and over a range of assembly sizes that contain 256 particles to over 66,000 particles. Stiffness is only slightly reduced and only with wall boundaries. Deformation is less uniform in the larger assemblies, with deformation concentrated in a smaller fraction of the assembly area. An analysis of deformation patterning shows that at least a few thousand particles are required for realistic microband patterning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-492
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Engineering Mechanics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 9 2009


  • Discrete elements
  • Granular media
  • Localization
  • Particles
  • Simulation
  • Size effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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