• granular element method;
  • discrete element method;
  • discrete mechanics;
  • NURBS;
  • multiscale analysis


This paper endows the recently-proposed granular element method (GEM) with the ability to perform 3D discrete element calculations. By using non-uniform rational B-Splines to accurately represent complex grain geometries, we proposed an alternative approach to clustering-based and polyhedra-based discrete element methods whereby the need for complicated and ad hoc approaches to construct 3D grain geometries is entirely bypassed. We demonstrate the ability of GEM in capturing arbitrary-shaped 3D grains with great ease, flexibility, and without excessive geometric information. Furthermore, the applicability of GEM is enhanced by its tight integration with existing non-uniform rational B-Splines modeling tools and ability to provide a seamless transition from binary images of real grain shapes (e.g., from 3D X-ray CT) to modeling and discrete mechanics computations.Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.