Modeling soil-bulldozer blade interaction using the discrete element method (DEM)


M.Z. Tekeste, R.L. Schafer, T.R. Way, Z. Syed




Journal of Terramechanics



Limited studies have been conducted to establish scaling relationships of soil reaction forces and length scales of bulldozer blades using the Discrete Element Method (DEM) technique. With a DEM-based similitude scaling law, performance of industry-scale blades can be predicted at reduced simulation efforts provided a calibrated and validated DEM soil model is developed. DEM material properties were developed to match soil cone penetration testing. The objectives of the study were to develop a DEM soil model for Norfolk sandy loam soil, establish a scaled relationship of soil reaction forces to bulldozer blade length scales (n = 0.24, n = 0.14, n = 0.10, and n = 0.05), and validate the DEM-predicted soil reaction forces on the scaled bulldozer blades to the Norfolk sandy loam soil bin data. Using 3D-scanned and reconstructed DEM soil aggregate shapes, Design of Experiment (DOE) of soil cone penetration testing was used to develop a soil model and a soil-bulldozer blade simulation. A power fit best approximated the relationship between the DEM-predicted soil horizontal forces and the bulldozer blade length scale (n) (R2 = 0.9976). DEM prediction of soil horizontal forces on the bulldozer blades explained the Norfolk sandy loam soil data with a linear regression fit (R2 = 0.9965 and slope = 0.9634).


Discrete element method, Similitude, Soil horizontal force, Soil vertical force

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