Creation, optimization and verification of a three dimensional numerical model to simulate a dragline bucket during the digging cycle using modern DEM software

Dymond, Graeme Francois Dryden (2007-12)

Thesis (MScEng (Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


Dragline bucket designers are required to evaluate new bucket designs by building and testing scale buckets. Concerns about the reliability and accuracy of scale testing have been raised in recent years, but there was no alternative. However, recent advances in computing power and granular flow modeling are changing this and, we are entering an era where it is possible to numerically simulate dragline bucket filling. However, verification of the numerical simulation is necessary before useable data can be obtained. This thesis explains the algorithm used by modern discrete element codes to simulate granular materials. The process used to create the numerical model and calibrate the material will be discussed. An experimental test bench was also built to record experimental data for the verification the numerical model. As the project progressed it became clear that the time needed to run a single simulation dramatically limits the number of simulations that could be run. Consequently, different approaches that could reduce simulation time were also investigated. Unlike the other material parameters, there is no test that can be used to directly calibrate the damping. An array of numerical simulations were therefore conducted testing different damping schemes. The comparison performed between the numerical and experimental data showed that the numerical models could not accurately simulate the experimental measurements of the scale model dragline bucket. The numerical model did, however, predict many of the trends identified in the experimental simulation. With more realistic contact models and better computer facilities, nonetheless, it is highly probable that numerical models will be capable of simulating dragline bucket filling accurately. Further study is, therefore, justified.

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