Numerical techniques for fast generation of large discrete-element models

Matteo Ciantia (Lead / Corresponding author), Katia Boschi, Thomas Shire, Sacha Emam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
144 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, civil engineers have started to use discrete-element modelling to simulate large-scale soil volumes thanks to technological improvements in both hardware and software. However, existing procedures to prepare ‘representative elementary volumes’ are unsatisfactory in terms of computational cost and sample homogeneity. In this work, a simple but efficient procedure to initialise large-scale discrete-element models is presented. Periodic cells are first generated with a sufficient number of particles (enough to consider the cell a representative elementary volume) matching the desired particle size distribution and equilibrated at the desired stress state, porosity and coordination number. When the cell is in equilibrium, it is replicated in space to fill the problem domain. And when the model is filled, only a small number of mechanical cycles is needed to equilibrate a large domain. The result is an equilibrated homogeneous sample at the desired initial state in a large volume
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-161
Number of pages15
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Engineering and Computational Mechanics
Issue number4
Early online date30 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Granular materials
  • Computational mechanics
  • Models (physical)
  • DEM


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