Laboratory validation of coal dust fouled ballast discrete element model

Hai Huang, Erol Tutumluer, Youssef M.A. Hashash, Jamshid Ghaboussi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


Fouling refers to the condition of railroad ballast when voids in this unbound aggregate layer are filled with relatively finer materials or fouling agents commonly from the ballast aggregate breakdown, outside contamination, or from subgrade soil intrusion. When ballast gets fouled, this unbound layer may not adequately serve its primary functions to provide drainage and structural support under the repeated loading applied by trains. Coal dust fouling has been identified as one of the most critical fouling scenarios as it significantly decreases the strength and stability of railroad ballast. A Discrete Element Modeling (DEM) approach was adopted in this study to investigate the coal dust fouled ballast performances. A DEM program BLOKS3D was used to employ realistic three-dimensional polyhedrons as discrete elements generated through digital imaging of aggregate particles. An appropriate DEM model parameter calibration process was carried out to predict both the clean ballast condition and the partially to fully coal dust fouled ballast behavior as obtained from laboratory shear box tests, which properly validated the BLOKS3D DEM simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPaving Materials and Pavement Analysis - Proceedings of the 2010 GeoShanghai International Conference
Number of pages9
Edition203 GSP
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 GeoShanghai International Conference - Paving Materials and Pavement Analysis - Shanghai, China
Duration: Jun 3 2010Jun 5 2010

Publication series

NameGeotechnical Special Publication
Number203 GSP
ISSN (Print)0895-0563


Other2010 GeoShanghai International Conference - Paving Materials and Pavement Analysis

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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