Pictured above is an example of how Sayed can use models created in ParaView to to visualise the mechanical behaviour of pumice particles.

Unlocking the power of ParaView to visualise the mechanical behaviour of pumice particles

"The help that we received from this NeSI consultancy project was crucial to our research project."
The below case study shares some of the technical details and outcomes of the scientific and HPC-focused programming support provided to a research project through NeSI’s Consultancy Service.
This service supports projects across a range of domains, with an aim to lift researchers’ productivity, efficiency, and skills in research computing. If you are interested to learn more or apply for Consultancy support, visit our Consultancy Service page.

Research background

Pumice deposits are found in many areas in the central part of New Zealand's North Island. Previous studies have shown that pumice particles are highly crushable, compressible, and lightweight as a result of their vesicular nature. The Discrete Element Method (DEM) can be a promising solution to provide insight into the behaviour of this granular material at both micro- and macro-level. While there are limited DEM results available for other crushable soils, they are not accurate for pumice deposits. University of Auckland Doctoral Candidate Sayed Bahmani is modelling the 3D shape of sand particles using DEM simulations to obtain micromechanical insight into the behaviour of the crushable pumice particles.


Project challenge

The number of pumice particles and forces (in the millions) can make it challenging to identify the clusters where crushing occurs. Full 3D visualisation was required to analyse output data and gain a better understanding of particle crushing behaviour and its dependence on particle size. In particular, Sayed and his colleagues wanted a better understanding of how crushable sand behaves under the application of different loading scenarios, e.g. monotonic and cyclic. While Sayed had experience with the ParaView visualisation package from previous projects, he needed assistance with the development of advanced visualisation pipelines which could go beyond the representation of force lines and particles he had produced so far.


What was done

As part of this Consultancy project, NeSI research software engineers worked with Sayed to help him apply some of the more advanced capabilities of ParaView to his data and simulation outputs.


Main outcomes

As part of the consultancy, Sayed learned how to create custom colour maps, play with transparency, and apply threshold operations on his data to extract critical information. From a cloud of point data, Sayed was then able to build a triangulated mesh and this in turn allowed him to apply contouring and slicing operations to unlock the mystery of how pumice sand gets crushed, all using the graphical user interface of ParaView.


Researcher feedback

"NeSI gave us the computational power to model highly crushable pumice particles. The simulations let us model various particles size with different crushing strengths. Instead of being limited to a couple of specimens in a lab we could simulate heaps of specimens with pumice particles under different conditions.  

Moreover, the help that we received from this NeSI consultancy project was crucial to our research project. The NeSI team looked at our programs step by step and guided us on how we could change the Python and C++ code and run these using OpenMP. The programs taking 7-8 days to run were made to produce the results within 7-8 hours. The NeSI support made it possible for us to complete this research within a limited time frame."

- Sayed Hessam Bahmani, Faculty of Engineering, University of Auckland


Do you have an research project that could benefit from working with NeSI research software engineers? Learn more about what kind of support they can offer and get in touch by emailing support@nesi.org.nz.


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