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Rocky and Ansys integration: get the most from parametric and multiphysics simulations

The powerful integration of Ansys and Rocky enables engineers to realistically model granular materials and their complex behaviors by including different physics in the analysis. These computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools working together allow for the evaluation of a wider range of scenarios, generating results that are closer to real life.  

Usage enhancement and parametric analyses

The tight integration between Rocky DEM and other component applications within the Ansys Workbench™ platform makes the setup of complex multiphysics simulations easy. 

The project schematic presents a comprehensive view of an entire analysis project in flowchart form, showing the relationships between solvers, as shown in Figure 1.  Moreover, from the user’s point of view, connections are created automatically by a drag-and-drop between systems in the schematic window. Transferring files and data from one application to the next is managed by the Workbench™ framework, and data and state dependencies are directly represented, delivering unprecedented ease of use and making teamwork simpler. 

Rocky and Ansys integration in the Ansys Workbench platform
Figure 1. Rocky integration in the Ansys Workbench platform.

Due to the dependencies tracking managed by Ansys Workbench, if something changes in an upstream cell (for example, a change in the design inside SpaceClaim), the project- level update mechanism allows those changes to be propagated through all dependent downstream systems in batch mode, substantially reducing the effort required to run the same analysis. 

Additionally, as parameters are managed at the project level, it is simple to define multiple parametric cases and effortlessly evaluate key design parameters and operational conditions to assess equipment performance or perform what-if studies with a set of design points. Finally, design exploration systems can be used to drive automated design explorations, such as design of experiments or goal-driven optimization.   

Rocky DEM and Ansys Fluent

The coupling between Ansys Fluent (CFD) and Rocky DEM emerges as one additional option among the comprehensive capabilities for solving fluid particulate systems available in Ansys tools, expanding the range of granular-fluid systems that can be simulated.

Since particle-particle and particle-boundary interactions are solved when using the Fluent-Rocky DEM coupled approach, and all forces acting on particles are computed on the DEM side, cases with unique, non-spherical shaped particles can be accurately solved using Rocky’s precise shape representation.

Because convective heat transfer between particles and fluids can be solved, along with the conductive heat exchanged during collisions, processes that involve temperature changes (such as drying) can be modeled with increased accuracy.    

In addition, the extensive post-processing tools available in Rocky enhance the level of information that can be extracted from the coupled simulation, providing better insight into your problem, as the complete history is available for all particles inside the domain (for example, velocities, temperatures, and contact data).

Finally, Rocky features such as adhesion/cohesion modeling, detailed particle collision statistics, energy spectra analysis, and breakage modeling can be simultaneously used with the Fluent-Rocky coupling solution, broadening the range of cases that can be numerically modeled and expanding your analyses to the next level.

Complex phenomena such as grass cutting by a lawnmower,  fluidized beds, flexible hair in a vacuum cleaner, and tablets or candy coating can be simulated and analyzed with the tighter coupling of these powerful tools.

Rocky DEM and Ansys Mechanical

The 1-way coupling between Discrete Element Modelling (DEM) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) allows engineers to predict the stress and strain response of structures when subjected to the granular loads accurately calculated by Rocky DEM. 

During a simulation, Rocky DEM tracks the particle loads on the geometry, and these loads are then exported as a pressure field for further analysis using Ansys Mechanical. This integration of Ansys Mechanical and Rocky allows evaluation of the surface structural response as granular material interacts with the handling equipment, such as transfer chutes, conveyor belts, and screening devices.  

Both static and transient structural analyses can be solved using Rocky DEM and Ansys Mechanical, including transient cases, while incorporating geometry motion and time-varying loads on boundary elements. 

Figure 2. Ansys Workbench Project Schematic showing a coupled DEM and FEA analysis.

Additional information on Ansys and Rocky integration

Check this video to discover how to extend your multiphysics simulations with Rocky DEM and Ansys integration:  


Lucilla Almeida

CAE Specialist at ESSS, D.Sc.

Lucilla holds a BE (Chemical) undergraduate degree, an M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Nuclear engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She joined ESSS in 2008 and has spent 5 years focused on applying CFD to solve common engineering problems in the Oil and Gas industry, dealing with turbulent and multiphase flow simulations. Since 2013, she is an Application Engineer for Rocky DEM Business Unit, supporting users, working on consultancy projects and validating models implemented for the CFD-DEM coupling.


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