3D laser scanning technique coupled with DEM GPU simulations for railway ballasts
Document typeConference report
Rights accessOpen Access
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Spheres with complex contact models or clumped sphere models are classically used to model ballast for railway applications with the Discrete Element Method (DEM). These simplifications omits the angularity of the actual ballast by assuming the ballast is either round or has rounded edges. This is done by necessity to allow for practically com- putable simulations that may consist of a few hundred particles. This study demonstrates that an experimentally validated DEM simulation environment, BlazeDEM-3DGPU, that computes on the graphical processing unit (GPU) is able to simulate railway ballast with a more realistic shapes that includes angularity for railway applications. In particular, a procedure is developed that extracts polyhedral shaped ballast geometries digitized from 3D-laser scanning for use in DEM simulations. The results show that much larger number of particles can be successfully modelled allowing for new possibilities offered by the GPUs to investigate model railway problems using DEM. Specifically, in this study a typical experimental ballast box that contains up to 60 000 polyhedral particles have been simulated with the BlazeDEM-3DGPU computing environment within reasonable computing times.