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The Discrete Element Method (DEM) is a numerical model to describe the mechanical behaviour of discontinuous bodies. It has been traditionally used to simulate particle flows (e.g. sand, sugar), but is becoming more popular as a method to represent solid materials. The DEM is very computationally expensive, but has properties that make it amenable to acceleration by reconfigurable computing. This paper describes the implementation of a dedicated hardware architecture for the DEM implemented on an FPGA, which is capable of giving a speed-zip of about 30 times compared to an optimised software version running on a fast microprocessor.