Coarse-grained local and objective continuum description of three-dimensional granular flows down an inclined surface

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Dry, frictional, steady-state granular flows down an inclined, rough surface are studied with discrete particle simulations. From this exemplary flow situation, macroscopic fields, consistent with the conservation laws of continuum theory, are obtained from microscopic data by time-averaging and spatial smoothing (coarse-graining). Two distinct coarse-graining length scale ranges are identified, where the fields are almost independent of the smoothing length w. The smaller, sub-particle length scale, w ≪ d, resolves layers in the flow near the base boundary that cause oscillations in the macroscopic fields. The larger, particle length scale, w ≈ d, leads to smooth stress and density fields, but the kinetic stress becomes scale-dependent; however, this scale-dependence can be quantified and removed. The macroscopic fields involve density, velocity, granular temperature, as well as strain-rate, stress, and fabric (structure) tensors. Due to the plane strain flow, each tensor can be expressed in an inherently anisotropic form with only four objective, coordinate frame invariant variables. For example, the stress is decomposed as: (i) the isotropic pressure, (ii) the “anisotropy” of the deviatoric stress, i.e., the ratio of deviatoric stress (norm) and pressure, (iii) the anisotropic stress distribution between the principal directions, and (iv) the orientation of its eigensystem. The strain rate tensor sets the reference system, and each objective stress (and fabric) variable can then be related, via discrete particle simulations, to the inertial number, I. This represents the plane strain special case of a general, local, and objective constitutive model. The resulting model is compared to existing theories and clearly displays small, but significant deviations from more simplified theories in all variables – on both the different length scales.
Original languageEnglish
Article number070605
Number of pages34
JournalPhysics of fluids
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • METIS-301978
  • IR-89122


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