Development and use of a discrete element model for simulating the bulk strand flow in a rotary drum blender


D. Graeme


University of British Columbia




In 2006 resin accounted for approximately 17% of the direct manufacturing costs for oriented strand board (OSB). Because of their increased dependency on pMDI-resins, this percentage is likely greater for oriented strand lumber (OSL) and laminated strand lumber (LSL). The cost of PF- and pMDI-resins is expected to face upward pressure as the cost of their primary constituents, natural gas and crude oil, continue to reach new highs. Therefore, there is strong economic incentive to optimize the use of resin in the production of these three products. This can be accomplished by addressing two key issues: reducing resin wastage and optimizing resin distribution on the strands. Both issues will be overcome by focusing on the blending process, where resin is applied to the strands.This work focused on development and use of a discrete element model (DEM) for simulating strand flow in a rotary drum blender using the EDEM software package. EDEM required the input of three material and three interaction properties. Development of the model involved creating the simulated environment (i.e. physical dimensions) and assigning appropriate material and interaction properties given this environment and the assumptions that were made. This was accomplished in two steps, completing baseline bench-top experiments and a literature review to determine appropriate parameters and initial value ranges for these properties, and then fine-tuning these values based on a validation process. Using the validated model, an exploratory study was conducted to determine the effect of four blender design and operating parameters (flight height, number of flights, blender rotational speed, and blender fill level) on bulk strand flow. The results were analyzed with regards to overall trends and by focusing on two perspectives, end users and blender manufacturers. It was found that there was a strong relationship between these key parameters and bulk strand flow. These results suggest that operating parameters of a blender, namely rotational speed and tilt angle, should be linked directly to the blender feed rate to ensure an optimal blending environment is maintained. In addition, manufacturers of blenders must take into consideration the range in final operating conditions when designing and positioning flights.


Discrete element modeling, Laminated strand lumber, Oriented strand board, Rotary drum blending

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