Discrete element method based analysis of mixing and collision dynamics in adhesive mixing process


K. Zheng, R. N. Dave, X. Deng




Chemical Engineering Science



When small amounts of fine particles are mixed with coarser particles, they tend to form ordered or adhesive mixtures. In order to understand the effect of fine particle amount and cohesion on the adhesive mixing process, discrete element method (DEM) simulations are carried out in which cohesion is represented by surface energy. High-intensity vibrational mixing was used to examine two important and related dynamic processes; fine particle deagglomeration and their subsequent adhesion to coarse particles, by analyzing normalized fine-fine (FF) and coarseā€“fine (CF) particle contact numbers, respectively, along with the mixing quality. It is found that FF contacts decreases with the mixing time, indicating deagglomeration, before reaching equilibrium; while CF contacts, an indicator of coating, as well as mixing quality increase before reaching equilibrium. A major new finding is that the number of fine particles per coarse particle at equilibrium follows lognormal distribution. The time scales to reach equilibrium FF contact number and mixing quality are comparable, indicating that deagglomeration is the dominant factor for achieving a uniform adhesive mixture. As expected, increasing surface energy of fine particles leads to decreased mixing quality due to stronger agglomerates that cannot be broken by collisions. On the other hand, collision rate can dictate mixing quality, as long as the collision energy is greater than the corresponding detachment energy of fine particles agglomerates. Selected experimental results validate the DEM simulations and their ability to describe the adhesive mixing process.


Collision dynamics, dhesive mixing process, Discrete Element Method (DEM), Mixing dynamics

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