How to model blast furnace charging using EDEM

In this post we discuss the challenges of modelling a blast furnace using Altair® EDEM™.  Simulation files with an example already setup can be downloaded here:

The Steelmaking industry is working towards reducing carbon emissions, with a goal of being as close as possible to carbon neutral. With governments and institutions setting goals to achieve “Green Steel” such as the 2015 Paris Agreement [1][2], making informed progress towards these goals is crucial.

Multiple challenges are faced by the steelmaking industry when it comes to optimizing and working with blast furnaces, these include:

Using EDEM, you can help resolve these challenges by modelling the charging of a blast furnace. Obtaining highly relevant information on the efficiency of the process from a virtual model. Allowing you to optimize the burden distribution and predict any segregation or wear on the distributor chute and wall staves, covering many of the challenges generally found in blast furnaces.

Step 1 -  Set the material model

For this simulation a custom non-calibrated EDEM Material Model was created based on realistic values. However you could also use the GEMM Database as a starting point for your material, which would already be a good approximation and set the interaction parameters between the particles and the bulk material and equipment (after you select the friction level desired).

Material Models Libraries in EDEM

Step 2 -  Material Calibration

Materials should be calibrated or use existing material models:

Discrete Element Method Calibration with EDEM

Step 3 – Import equipment from CAD

You can create your own equipment models in any CAD package and import it into EDEM, many file types such as STL, STEP, IGES to name a few, are supported. Geometries are imported to EDEM via the Creator > Geometries > Import Geometry section and will be by default meshed automatically unless the format imported already has a previously defined mesh. Generally mesh element size is not very important for DEM simulation results; however you may want to manually define the mesh definition if you want to do some wear analysis on the staves or distributor chute, as this will give you a more detailed wear pattern.

Step 4 – Introduce Material

The material in the example attached to this post is already generated. However, you could create your material with a dynamic factory that fits inside of the silo or even fill the silos in a prior simulation with the chute or conveyor system that fills them. Once they were filled you could save the silos as material blocks that could be imported into the charging simulation to introduce all the material already in the silo with the correct segregation and position of the material based on the filling.

Step 5 – Assign Kinematics

You can assign different types of motion to the geometries, but in a blast furnace with a distributor chute only one kinematic would be required. This would be a Linear Rotational Kinematic which makes the distributor chute rotate around a specified axis.

The steps to set up a kinematic like the one used in this example are outlined in our EDEM tutorials:

EDEM Tutorials

Step 6 – Post-Processing

There will be a link to a video showcasing the possible analysis and results that you could obtain from simulating this process in the coming weeks.

Altair EDEM allows engineers in the steel making industry to analyze the charging process in order to:

To find out more about how EDEM can help with optimizing and reducing energy consumption in processes in the steelmaking industry check the following webinar:

From mine to blast furnace - Optimizing the iron and steelmaking process with bulk material simulation

If you’d like to see what EDEM users are doing in the Steelmaking industry check this presentation by Edouard Izard from ArcelorMittal:

Applications of EDEM Software at ArcelorMittal R&D


[1]     Climate change and the production of iron and steel. World Steel Association. Available at:

[2] (2023) Emissions Measurement and Data Collection for a Net Zero Steel Industry. International Energy Agency. Available at: