Modeling rammed earth wall using discrete element method

T.T. Bui, Q.B. Bui, A. Limam, Jean-Claude Morel

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    Rammed earth is attracting renewed interest throughout the world thanks to its “green” characteristics in the context of sustainable development. Several research studies have thus recently been carried out to investigate this material. Some of them attempted to simulate the rammed earth’s mechanical behavior by using analytical or numerical models. Most of these studies assumed that there was a perfect cohesion at the interface between earthen layers. This hypothesis proved to be acceptable for the case of vertical loading, but it could be questionable for horizontal loading. To address this problem, discrete element modeling seems to be relevant to simulate a rammed earth wall. To our knowledge, no research has been conducted thus far using discrete element modeling to study a rammed earth wall. This paper presents an assessment of the discrete element modeling’s robustness for rammed earth walls. Firstly, a brief description of the discrete element modeling is presented. Then the parameters necessary for discrete element modeling of the material law of the earthen layers and their interfaces law following the Mohr–Coulomb model with a tension cut-off and post-peak softening were given. The relevance of the model and the material parameters were assessed by comparing them with experimental results from the literature. The results showed that, in the case of vertical loading, interfaces did not have an important effect. In the case of diagonal loading, model with interfaces produced better results. Interface characteristics can vary from 85 to 100% of the corresponding earthen layer’s characteristics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)523-538
    JournalContinuum Mechanics and Thermodynamics
    Issue number1
    Early online date22 Jul 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

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    • Rammed earth
    • Discrete element method
    • Interface characteristics


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