Discrete simulation of dense flows of polyhedral grains down a rough inclined plane

E Azéma, Y Descantes, N Roquet, J-N Roux, F Chevoir

The influence of grain angularity on the properties of dense flows down a rough inclined plane are investigated. Three-dimensional numerical simulations using the Non-Smooth Contact Dynamics method are carried out with both spherical (rounded) and polyhedral (angular) grain assemblies. Both sphere and polyhedra assemblies abide by the flow start and stop laws described in [GDR MIDI, Euro. Phys. J. E 14, 341 (2004)], although much higher tilt angle values are required to trigger polyhedral grain flow. In the dense permanent flow regime, both systems show similarities in the bulk of the material (away from the top free surface and the substrate), such as uniform values of the solid fraction, inertial number and coordination number, or linear dependency of the solid fraction and effective friction coefficient with the inertial number. However, discrepancies are also observed between spherical and polyhedral particle flows, such as the presence of a dead (or nearly arrested) zone in polyhedral grain flows close to the bottom surface. This dead zone is reflected by locally concave velocity profiles, locally larger coordination number and solid fraction values, smaller inertial number values, while the characteristic layered microstructure of sphere assemblies near the substrate is absent. In addition, unlike sphere assemblies, polyhedral grain assemblies exhibit significant normal stress differences, which increase close to the substrate.