Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Physics

First Advisor

Joseph R. Gladden

Second Advisor

Emanuele Berti

Third Advisor

Luca Bombelli

Relational Format



Granular materials are an interesting class of media in that they exhibit many disparate characteristics depending on conditions. The same set of particles may behave like a solid, liquid, gas, something in-between, or something completely unique depending on the conditions. Practically speaking, granular materials are used in many aspects of manufacturing, therefore any new information gleaned about them may help refine these techniques. For example, learning of a possible instability may help avoid it in practical application, saving machinery, money, and even personnel. To that end, we intend to simulate a granular medium under tornado-like vortex airflow by varying particle parameters and observing the behaviors that arise. The simulation itself was written in Python from the ground up, starting from the basic simulation equations in Pöschel [1]. From there, particle spin, viscous friction, and vertical and tangential airflow were added. The simulations were then run in batches on a local cluster computer, varying the parameters of radius, flow force, density, and friction. Phase plots were created after observing the behaviors of the simulations and the regions and borders were analyzed. Most of the results were as expected: smaller particles behaved more like a gas, larger particles behaved more like a solid, and most intermediate simulations behaved like a liquid. A small subset formed an interesting crossover region in the center, and under moderate forces began to throw a few particles at a time upward from the center in a fountain-like effect. Most borders between regions appeared to agree with analysis, following a parabolic critical rotational velocity at which the parabolic surface of the material dips to the bottom of the mass of particles. The fountain effects seemed to occur at speeds along and slightly faster than this division.

Included in

Physics Commons



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