Discrete Element Method (DEM) Contact Models Applied to Pavement Simulation

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Virginia Tech

Pavement is usually composed of aggregate, asphalt binder, and air voids; rigid pavement is built with hydraulic cement concrete; reinforced pavement contains steel. With these wide ranges of materials, different mechanical behaviors need to be defined in the pavement simulation. But so far, there is no research providing a comprehensive introduction and comparison between various contact models. This paper will give a detail exploration on the contact models that can be potentially used in DEM pavement simulation; in the analysis, it includes both a theoretical part, simulation results and computational time cost, which can reveal the fundamental mechanical behaviors for the models, and that can be a reference for researchers to choose a proper contact model. A new contact model—the power law viscoelastic contact model is implemented into software PFC 3D and is numerically verified. Unlike existing linear viscoelastic contact models, the approach presented in this thesis provides a detailed exploration of the contact model for thin film power-law creeping materials based on C.Y Chueng's work. This model is aimed at simulating the thin film asphalt layer between two aggregates, which is a common structure in asphalt mixtures. Experiments with specimens containing a thin film asphalt between two aggregates are employed to validate the new contact model.

Discrete element method, contact models, pavement simulation, power-low viscoelasticity