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Discrete element method simulation of wear due to soil-tool interaction



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This study considered using a relatively new method to study soil-tool wear which could drastically reduce the time and associated costs of traditional wear studies. The goal was to utilize discrete element method (DEM) simulations to recreate the results of a circular soil bin test in order to develop a relationship that could be used to predict wear under different conditions. Through the application of DEM, simulations could be used to study different materials or designs intended to result in improved wear performance. Three replications of aluminum cylindrical bars were worn during 400 km of travel in a circular soil bin. Wear was quantified by measuring the change in radius of the cylinders at 18-degree intervals around their circumference. Mass data were also obtained to provide an overall average of wear occurring on the bar and to validate the radii measurements. The DEM simulations were executed using EDEM software. Conditions present in the physical soil bin trials were simulated by recreating components in the soil bin and incorporating soil properties that were directly measured, using representative soil samples. Forces exerted on the bar by the soil and the relative velocities between the soil and tool were used to generate a relationship to predict wear of the bar. The wear equation was verified using a portion of the experimental data from the soil bin. The wear model showed promise in predicting the amount of wear recorded in the soil bin through the application of DEM-predicted compressive forces and relative velocities between the tool and soil particles. The Archard equation for wear was modified to create a non-linear equation. Plotting the measured wear against the wear predicted from the fitted equation produced a trendline with a slope of 0.65. Although a perfect correlation would have produced a slope of 1, the model was able to predict a large portion of the wear that occurred. Refinement of the model could further be achieved with changes in the design of the geometry used in the simulation and through verification of force predictions with experimental data. Because of the variable nature of wear, additional replications of tools in the soil bin would have increased the number of data points available to create the model and reduced the impact of outlying data. With these recommended improvements, the wear model has the ability to very accurately predict the wear of a cylindrical bar.



discrete element method, soil bin, tillage, wear, abrasion



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering


Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering


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