Generalised Kelvin contact models for DEM modelling of asphalt mixtures

Gustavo Câmara, Nuno Monteiro Azevedo, Rui Micaelo, Hugo Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Rigid particle models based on the discrete element method (DEM) have been adopted to model creep, fracture, and the viscoelastic behaviour of asphalt mixtures considering an irregular micro-structure and particle contacts. Within a DEM framework, the Burgers contact model, which is known to have a narrow frequency and temperature range, is usually adopted to model viscoelastic properties. In this study, a new explicit three-dimensional generalised Kelvin (GK) contact model formulation for the DEM model is proposed for asphalt materials. The model is implemented following two different methodologies (GK (Formula presented.) and GK (Formula presented.)). The models are validated in uniaxial tension-compression sinusoidal tests for predicting the dynamic modulus ((Formula presented.)) and phase angle (ϕ) of these composites at a frequency range of 1–10 Hz at (Formula presented.) C. Four mixtures are investigated based on the modelling of their mastic. The influence of the GK contact parameters on the dynamic response of mastics is assessed. Results show that (Formula presented.) has an important influence on both rheological properties and that (Formula presented.) can be used for small adjustments focussing on the predicted phase angle. Moreover, it is shown that a viscoelastic contact model should be adopted to simulate aggregate-to-mastic contacts in mixtures. As expected, the response obtained for both GK models is the same but the simulations with the GK (Formula presented.) are 14% faster. In addition, the response predicted with the proposed GK contact model is compared with the response predicted with a Burgers contact model. The DEM predictions obtained for the GK model are more accurate. For mastics, the average errors for (Formula presented.) and ϕ when adopting the GK model (Burgers) are 2.40% (3.46%) and 3.64% (4.17%), respectively. For mixtures, the average errors for (Formula presented.) for the GK model (Burgers) are 7.00% (7.92%). The proposed contact model greatly enhances the DEM ability to simulate the viscoelasticity of asphalt materials.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2179625
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Pavement Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Asphalt mixture
  • discrete element method
  • three-dimensional model
  • viscoelasticity
  • dynamic behaviour


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