ESR 10

Discrete-continuum hybrid modelling of flowing and static regimes

The current project aims at improving the simulation of engineering problems involving granular material in different regimes in which granular material-flowing is involved in goods production. The goal is the achievement of a better numerical description of the analysed phenomenon, saving time and money for laboratory tests and improving production efficiency. 

The main objective is the design of a hybrid computational technique which blends the Finite Element Method (FEM) and the Discrete Element Method (DEM) to simulate granular material in flowing and static regime.

The behaviour of granular material depends on the distribution of the shear stresses and, in particular two different regimes (static and flowing) can usually be identified in function of the exceeding or not of a certain critical shear stress level.

The proposed technique will be designed to be applied to practical engineering problems, involving granular flows, such as, for example, particles moving inside silos or hoppers, where a flowing and a static regime coexist. 

Nowadays DEM is often preferred to traditional FEM models, where particle-particle or particle-structure interactions have to be analysed in detail. The discrete nature of this technique, in fact, is a key aspect for accurately describing inter particles behaviour. Nevertheless, the involvement of a copious number of particles within the simulation entails a high computational cost, much higher than in the case of a continuum modeling. The use of a hybrid model could therefore help overcoming the drawbacks and strengthening advantages of both numerical approaches. For this purpose an innovative numerical technique combining continuous and discrete models will be designed and validated during this work.

Ilaria Iaconeta


Nationality: Italian

Current stay: International Center for Numerical Methods and Engineering (CIMNE), Barcelona, Spain

Ilaria comes from Pesaro, Italy. She studied at the Politecnico di Milano, Italy, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 2011 and her Master’s degree in Hydraulic Engineering in 2014 cum laude. Her Master’s Degree thesis topic was on the field of groundwater; she studied the physical process of infiltration within the Vadose Zone and the investigation of the stochastic nature of output data for transient unsaturated flow. Nowadays she is a Marie Curie fellow, working at the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering in Barcelona (Spain).

Ilaria Iaconeta