Aiming at the simulation of dense granular flows, we propose and test a numerical method based on successive convex complementarity problems. This approach originates from a multibody description of the granular flow: all the particles are simulated as rigid bodies with arbitrary shapes and frictional contacts. Unlike the discrete element method (DEM), the proposed approach does not require small integration time steps typical of stiff particle interaction; this fact, together with the development of optimized algorithms that can run also on parallel computing architectures, allows an efficient application of the proposed methodology to granular flows with a large number of particles. We present an application to the analysis of the refueling flow in pebble-bed nuclear reactors. Extensive validation of our method against both DEM and physical experiments results indicates that essential collective characteristics of dense granular flow are accurately predicted.

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