Computational simulation of kaolin flow in silos by discrete element method / Simulação computacional do fluxo de caulim em silos pelo método dos elementos discretos

Fernando Pereira Mascarenhas, Alexandre Luiz Amarante Mesquita, Kelvin Alves Pinheiro, André Luiz Amarante Mesquita


In the flow of particulate material in silos some problems can occur, ranging from an undesired flow pattern to the complete obstruction of the material, if the silo is not correctly sized. Analytical and numerical methods exist for hopper design according to the flow properties of the granulated material. This work aims to predict the behavior of kaolin flow in cylindrical silos with conical hopper using a numerical method, the Discrete Element Method (DEM). One of the advantages of this method is the virtual visualization of the material flow. Therefore, simulations of kaolin flow in acrylic silos using DEM were performed for different geometries (minimum diameter and angle of inclination) to verify the different flow regimes of kaolin (mass flow and funnel flow) and the occurrence of arching (flow obstruction). The results were compared with experimental results and with results of analytical methods of flow prediction. DEM results showed excellent agreement with the flow patterns obtained in the experiments and with analytical results. Therefore, the DEM showed to be an efficient tool in the prediction of material flow in silos and hopper design. Its use can be extended for silos design with complex configurations, where the use of analytical methods for a desirable flow would be much more difficult or not applicable.


Discrete element method; silos; hopper; kaolin.


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