Appropriate simulations of the sand cutting process are needed for dredging purposes. Software packages based on discrete element modeling (DEM) have offered useful tools to conduct the simulation and visualize the result. However, before moving to water saturated environment, simulations of the sand cutting process in atmospheric environment should first be treated. As known in reality the sand particles are not perfectly spherical, and their behavior is determined by their natural shape and material properties. Hence one of the key questions emerges to us, what particle geometry design is appropriate for a practical simulation.

To answer that question, a group of simulations with various particle geometry designs are set up to imitate the natural behavior of the sand particles in cutting process. The simulations are conducted in 3D by the software package EDEM™. The outcome shows that the macro behavior of the sand specimen could be different when different types of particles are used. And the cutting force records registered on the cutting blade are influenced by the particles’ ability to rotate, which is determined by the geometry of the particles, too. Besides, there is a risk that some of the particle shapes may create orderly placement in the sand pile.

Another topic discussed in this paper is the algorithm to calculate the porosity in the sand pile, which is useful for developing the simulation into water saturated environment. A numerical method based on a 3D grid system will be introduced in this part.

This paper will show the detailed methodology and results of the simulation and analysis.

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