Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
I recently motored up to DEM Solutions (Lebanon, NH) to get my first real learning about discrete element method (DEM) modeling software. Don't worry if you're not up to snuff on the idea, and keep reading if you are. This is new.
DEM is a branch of CAE that has been the object of academic, mega-corporation, and government development since the ‘80s. The object of DEM is to solve the dynamic contact interactions of a system of particles in motion. This involves complex phenomena such as the nonlinear interaction of the particles (materials, mass, temperature, velocity, etc.), flow, and machine dynamics. DEM is the missing analysis link that fills that multiphysics void where CFD, FEA, and multibody dynamics happen upon each other but cannot combine to give you a solution. But like the early days of FEA or CFD, most existing DEM applications are point solutions developed in-house by and for Ph.D.s to run on massive computer systems. DEM Solutions makes DEM modeling for everyday engineers using everyday engineering workstations. The software is called EDEM, and it's just out in version 2.
EDEM 2 lets you simulate, analyze, and optimize any granular solid in motion: Aspirin tablets in a coating tumbler, corn pellets popping through a pneumatic conveyor, rocks separating on a vibration screen. Stuff like that. It enables you to visualize particle kinematics, momentum, heat, and mass transfer so that you know what's happening in those places where you simply cannot plunk a probe to get a measurement or a camera to get a peek. With EDEM, you can now design, test, understand, and optimize your particle-handling and manufacturing processes fully.
Unlike a lot of CAE applications, you do not have to hold a degree in DEM theory to use EDEM. It requires just a handful of parameters common to your process to set up a simulation and, since it runs under Windows or Linux, its user interface is familiar. EDEM also works with CFD and FEA codes to provide particle-fluid and particle-structure interactions, and it can even be used to simulate unobservable things like particle and electromagnetic interactions, where, snug in my ignorance, I'm certain a Ph.D. would be useful.
Now, if you're familiar with DEM, one cool thing about EDEM is that it does not assume that all particles are spheres. Particles can approximate the shapes you live with — oblong pills and pop bottles, whatever. It even can handle batches of irregular mixed shapes, such as nut, pea, and stove coal. EDEM imports major MCAD files and data exchange formats, and, unlike most in-house code, is up to the minute on the latest numerical algorithms for DEM.
EDEM 2.0 is physics for those who need to know what the physics of FEA, CFD, and so forth are not able to tell them about particle flow systems. From today's Pick of the Week write-up, you'll find links to an assortment of animations developed with EDEM. It's well worth your time to get into the flow of things and check out EDEM 2.0.
Thanks, Pal – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering Magazine