Simulation of uniaxial tensile behavior of quasi-brittle materials using softening contact models in DEM

Bora Pulatsu, Ece Erdogmus, Paulo B. Lourenço, Romain Quey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


This study proposes new contact models to be incorporated into discrete element method (DEM) to more accurately simulate the tensile softening in quasi-brittle materials, such as plain concrete and masonry with emphasis on fracture mechanism and post-peak response. For this purpose, a plain concrete specimen (double notched) and stack bonded masonry prism under direct tensile test are modeled. Furthermore, mixed mode crack propagation is investigated in concrete and brickwork assemblages. Two modeling approaches are proposed, the simplified and detailed meso modeling, both based on DEM. In the simplified meso-model, a smooth contact surface is considered between two separate blocks, whereas the internal structure of the material is explicitly represented as a tessellation into random polyhedral blocks in the detailed meso-model. Furthermore, recently developed tensile softening contact constitutive models implemented into a commercial discrete element code (3DEC) are used to simulate the softening behavior of concrete and masonry. As an important novel contribution, it is indicated that the proposed computational models successfully capture the complete (pre- and post-peak) material behavior and realistically replicate the cracking mechanism. Additionally, a sensitivity analysis demonstrates the influence of the various micro-contact parameters on the overall response of the examined materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-125
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Fracture
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Concrete
  • Contact mechanics
  • DEM
  • Direct tension test
  • Masonry prisms
  • Softening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanics of Materials


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