DEM modelling of railway ballast using the Conical Damage Model: a comprehensive parametrisation strategy

Bettina Suhr, Klaus Six, Roger Lewis, William Skipper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite ongoing research, the parametrisation of a DEM model is a challenging task, as it depends strongly on the particle shape representation used, particle-particle contact law and the simulated applications: for railway ballast e.g. lab tests or track conditions. The authors previously modelled railway ballast with a DEM model using a simple particle shape. The DEM model was parametrised, by trial-and-error, to compression and direct shear test results. A good agreement between DEM model and experimental results was achieved only when the Conical Damage Model (CDM) was used as the contact law. Compared to the well-known linear-spring Cundall-Strack law or the Hertz-Mindlin law, this contact law takes into account additional physical effects (e.g. edge breakage) occurring in the experiment. Little is known on the influence of the CDM model parameters on the simulation results or on possible parameter ambiguities. This lack of knowledge hinders a reliable and efficient parametrisation of DEM models using different particle shapes. Both points are addressed in this work in detail by investigating a DEM model for railway ballast using one simple particle shape. Suggestions for a parametrisation strategy of reduced computational effort are formulated and tested using a second particle shape. In future works, the newly presented parametrisation strategy can help to calibrate different DEM models and to study the influence of particle shape.
Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalGranular Matter
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Calibration
  • Contact modelling
  • DEM modelling
  • Parameter ambiguity
  • Railway ballast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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