Simulations with Granular Material Motion for Extraterrestrial Applications

David S. Helminiak


A simulation study utilizing Hooke style particle models was conducted to better understand the characteristic modes, translational/rotational energy distribution, the complete energy cascade and applications of granular interactions occurring within a horizontal drum tumbler. This study was conducted in conjunction with a physical study performed by Nathaniel Helminiak, entitled: “Experiments with Granular Material Motion for Extraterrestrial Applications.†These simulations were created through the discrete element modeling software: LIGGGHTS (LAMMPS Improved for General Granular and Granular Heat Transfer Simulations) and the program it is based upon, LAMMPS (Large-scale Atomic/Molecular Massively Parallel Simulator). The resulting flows were visualized within VisIt visualization software and analyzed using the high-level computer language, GNU Octave. Simulations predicted areas of interest to study and extend tests beyond the physical test bed’s material limitations. The study suggests the existing idea of force chains as applied to rotational forces, namely “bro-chains,†and also that the industry mass finishing process may benefit from investigation into a complete energy characterization of granular flow.


granular flow


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