A Semi-Implicit Material Point Method for the Continuum Simulation of Granular Materials

Gilles Daviet, Florence Bertails-Descoubes
ACM Transactions on Graphics, July 2016 (Proceedings of the ACM SIGGRAPH 2016 Conference, to appear)


We present a new continuum-based method for the realistic simulation of large-scale free-flowing granular materials. We derive a compact model for the rheology of the material, which accounts for the exact nonsmooth Drucker-Prager yield criterion combined with a varying volume fraction. Thanks to a semi-implicit time-stepping scheme and a careful spatial discretization of our rheology built upon the Material-Point Method, we are able to preserve at each time step the exact coupling between normal and tangential stresses, in a stable way. This contrasts with previous approaches which either regularize or linearize the yield criterion for implicit integration, leading to unrealistic behaviors or visible grid artifacts. Remarkably, our discrete problem turns out to be very similar to the discrete contact problem classically encountered in multibody dynamics, which allows us to leverage robust and efficient nonsmooth solvers from the literature. We validate our method by successfully capturing typical macroscopic features of some classical experiments, such as the discharge of a silo or the collapse of a granular column. Finally, we show that our method can be easily extended to accommodate more complex scenarios including two-way rigid body coupling as well as anisotropic materials.
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We would like to thank Pierre-Yves Lagrée for his help in reviewing the literature on granular simulation, Rahul Narain for sharing his original code with us, as well as the anonymous reviewers for their insightful feedbacks. This work was supported in part by the LabEx PERSYVAL-Lab (ANR-11-LABX-0025-01) funded by the French program Investissement d Avenir.