Discrete element modelling using a parallelised physics engine

S. M. Longshaw, M. J. Turner, E. Finch, R. Gawthorpe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

206 Downloads (Pure)


Discrete Element Modelling (DEM) is a technique used widely throughout science and engineering. It offers a convenient method with which to numerically simulate a system prone to developing discontinuities within its structure. Often the technique gets overlooked as designing and implementing a model on a scale large enough to be worthwhile can be both time consuming and require specialist programming skills. Currently there are a few notable efforts to produce homogenised software to allow researchers to quickly design and run DEMs with in excess of 1 million elements. However, these applications, while open source, are still complex in nature and require significant input from their original publishers in order for them to include new features as a researcher needs them. Recently software libraries notably from the computer gaming and graphics industries, known as physics engines, have emerged. These are designed specifically to calculate the physical movement and interaction of a system of independent rigid bodies. They provide conceptual equivalents of real world constructions with which an approximation of a realistic scenario can be quickly built. This paper presents a method to utilise the most notable of these engines, NVIDIAs PhysX, to produce a parallelised geological DEM capable of supporting in excess of a million elements. © The Eurographics Association 2009.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheory and Practice of Computer Graphics 2009, TPCG 2009 - Eurographics UK Chapter Proceedings|Theory Pract. Comput. Graph., TPCG - Eurographics UK Chapter Proc.
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9783905673715
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event7th Theory and Practice of Computer Graphics Conference, TPCG 2009 - Cardiff
Duration: 1 Jul 2009 → …


Conference7th Theory and Practice of Computer Graphics Conference, TPCG 2009
Period1/07/09 → …


  • DEM
  • Physics Engine
  • PhysX
  • Geological Faulting


Dive into the research topics of 'Discrete element modelling using a parallelised physics engine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this