Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Uncovering the Real Dirt on Granular Flow

05.12.2008
A handful of sand contains countless grains, which interact with each other via friction and impact forces as they slip through your fingers. When a handful becomes a load in an excavator bucket, those interactions multiply exponentially.

By solving large sets of differential equations, researchers can predict how sand or other granular material will move. Assistant Professor Dan Negrut and his team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Simulation-Based Engineering Laboratory are developing innovative computer simulation methods for parallel computers to analyze granular material motion much faster than is possible with current technologies.

Even a supercomputer takes days to run a simulation charting the motion of millions of sand grains. Negrut hopes his simulation will analyze millions of grains in a single day, if not a matter of hours. The difference lies in how parallel computers approach the task. The central processing unit of a regular computer processes information sequentially, so grains are analyzed one after another. Parallel computers that rely on the graphics-processing unit (GPU) can simultaneously execute one instruction multiple times. This is how a graphics card processes pixels to render scene after scene in video games.

Negrut uses GPU computation to determine in-parallel sand movement. He and his students built a custom computer that handles almost 50,000 parallel computational threads at any given time. Currently, the team is working on detecting which particles collide with each other when, for example, granular material is scooped up by an excavator or driven over by a car.

“The task is challenging because there are hundreds of thousands of collisions you have to track,” Negrut says, adding the preliminary data on collision detection developed by graduate students Toby Heyn and Justin Madsen look promising.

Once Negrut and his students can accurately predict collisions between individual particles, they will determine what frictional contact force is actually at work between the particles. For this, they will collaborate with Professor Alessandro Tasora from the University of Parma, Italy. Heyn is traveling to Italy this January, and Tasora will visit the team in Madison next year. (Tasora visited Negrut in February.)

“Right now we’re expanding the type of problems and size of problems you can solve with a simulation,” says Heyn. “Simulation is important because it’s often faster and cheaper than experimental testing.”

Simulations of granular flow dynamics could be particularly useful for vehicle design. The team has worked with P&H Mining Equipment in Milwaukee, which builds three-million-pound electric shovels to dig in the oil sands near Alberta, Canada. Negrut’s simulations may help the company develop optimal designs for its equipment in a cost-efficient manner.

“You can change the parameters of a design easily and then quickly run a computer simulation to understand how the design change is impacting the overall performance of the computer model,” says Heyn.

In addition to construction equipment, Negrut’s simulations could lead to improved design of tire treads for vehicles that drive on mostly sand or dirt roads. Beyond vehicle applications, researchers could use such simulations to study atomic particles, pebble-bed nuclear reactors, pressure in silos, and crystals in prescription pills. The National Science Foundation and U.S. Army subcontracts support Negrut’s work, and NVIDIA Corp., a GPU manufacturer, is also a sponsor. Recently, P&H Mining has offered additional funding.

Sandra Knisely | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Five developments for improved data exploitation
19.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

nachricht Smart Manual Workstations Deliver More Flexible Production
04.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>