Validation and experimental calibration of 3D discrete element models for the simulation of the discharge flow in silos


A. Ramirez, C. González-Montellano, E.Gallego, F.Ayuga




Chemical Engineering Science



The aim of the present work was to develop 3D discrete element models capable of simulating the observed flow of glass beads (simple glass spheres) and maize grains (represented as a combination of spheres) during their discharge from a small model silo. A preliminary model for each material was constructed based on values for variables measured in the laboratory or taken from the literature. The ability of the models to predict the flow of these materials was then tested by comparing their results with observed discharge flows. Three variables were recorded for this: the mean bulk density at the end of the filling phase, the discharge rate and the flow pattern. The comparison of the results for the last of these variables required the discharge process be filmed using a high speed camera in order to more easily recognise the details of the flow. The preliminary model for the glass beads made very reasonable predictions, but that for the maize grains required calibration. This involved modifying the values of the friction properties of the material until a model capable of making acceptable predictions was obtained.The results obtained highlighted the influence of friction properties on the characteristics of the discharge flow. Finally, some of the numerical results provided by the models were analysed in order to describe the flow characteristics and the behaviour of the discharge rate in more detail.


Dynamic simulation, Experimental validation, Granular materials, Numerical analysis, Particle processing, Silo

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