Large-scale simulations of non-Brownian rigid fibers sedimenting under gravity at zero Reynolds number have been performed using a fast algorithm. The mathematical formulation follows the previous simulations by
Butler and Shaqfeh [“Dynamic simulations of the inhomogeneous sedimentation of rigid fibres,” J. Fluid Mech. 468, 205 (2002)
]. The motion of the fibers is described using slender-body theory, and the line distribution of point forces along their lengths is approximated by a Legendre polynomial in which only the total force, torque, and particle stresslet are retained. Periodic boundary conditions are used to simulate an infinite suspension, and both far-field hydrodynamic interactions and short-range lubrication forces are considered in all simulations. The calculation of the hydrodynamic interactions, which is typically the bottleneck for large systems with periodic boundary conditions, is accelerated using a smooth particle-mesh Ewald (SPME) algorithm previously used in molecular dynamics simulations. In SPME the slowly decaying Green’s function is split into two fast-converging sums: the first involves the distribution of point forces and accounts for the singular short-range part of the interactions, while the second is expressed in terms of the Fourier transform of the force distribution and accounts for the smooth and long-range part. Because of its smoothness, the second sum can be computed efficiently on an underlying grid using the fast Fourier transform algorithm, resulting in a significant speed-up of the calculations. Systems of up to 512 fibers were simulated on a single-processor workstation, providing a different insight into the formation, structure, and dynamics of the inhomogeneities that occur in sedimenting fiber suspensions.