Discrete element modelling of cementitious materials
Brown, Nicholas John
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This thesis presents a new bonded particle model that accurately predicts the wideranging behaviour of cementitious materials. There is an increasing use of the Discrete Element Method (DEM) to study the behaviour of cementitious materials such as concrete and rock; the chief advantage of the DEM over continuum-based techniques is that it does not predetermine where cracking and fragmentation initiate and propagate, since the system is naturally discontinuous. The DEM’s ability to produce realistic representations of cementitious materials depends largely on the implementation of an inter-particle bonded-contact model. A new bonded-contact model is proposed, based on the Timoshenko beam theory which considers axial, shear and bending behaviour of inter-particle bonds. The developed model was implemented in the commercial EDEM code, in which a thorough verification procedure was conducted. A full parametric study then considered the uni-axial loading of a concrete cylinder; the influence of the input parameters on the bulk response was used to produce a calibrated model that has been shown to be capable of producing realistic predictions of a wide range of behaviour seen in cementitious materials. The model provides useful insights into the microscopic phenomena that result in the bulk loading responses observed for cementitious materials such as concrete. The new model was used to simulate the loading of a number of deformable structural elements including beams, frames, plates and rings; the numerical results produced by the model provided a close match to theoretical solutions.