On the electrostatic equilibrium of granular flow in pneumatic conveying systems

Authors

  • Jun Yao,

    1. Singapore-MIT Alliance, E4–04-10, 4, Engineering Drive 3, Singapore 117576
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  • Yan Zhang,

    1. Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National Univ. of Singapore, 4 Engineering Drive 4, Singapore 117576
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  • Chi-Hwa Wang,

    Corresponding author
    1. Singapore-MIT Alliance, E4–04-10, 4, Engineering Drive 3, Singapore 117576
    2. Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National Univ. of Singapore, 4 Engineering Drive 4, Singapore 117576
    • Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National Univ. of Singapore, 4 Engineering Drive 4, Singapore 117576
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  • Yung C. Liang

    1. Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, National Univ. of Singapore, Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
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Abstract

An analytical methodology involving the concept of “electrostatic equilibrium” is developed for granular flow in pneumatic conveying systems. The methodology can be used for estimation of the electrostatic field distribution at various sections of the system and explanation of the mechanisms involved for various electrostatic phenomena observed. For all cases conducted in the conveying system, there was a “charging time” required for the system to reach the state of “electrostatic equilibrium.” Experiments conducted at different sections of the system showed that the time required increased in the order: horizontal pipe, vertical pipe, and pipe bend. Through a physical analysis, it is deduced that electrostatic equilibrium is related to the granules' behavior and local flow characteristics. In general, a longer time duration taken to reach equilibrium corresponds to a process with more complicated granular flow patterns. In the electrostatic equilibrium state, the field distribution shows the highest electrostatic field strength near the pipe wall, and this field strength degrades from the pipe wall to the pipe center. At various pipe sections, the highest strength occurs at the bend, in accord with observations that electric sparking first occurs at that location within the entire pneumatic conveying system. In the vertical pipe, granular distribution was measured using electrical capacitance tomography (ECT), and granular velocities were cross-referenced with those using particle image velocimetry (PIV). The electrostatic force at low air flow rates is found to be the primary cause for granules sticking to the pipe wall and results in the formation of the half-ring or ring structure. The state of electrostatic equilibrium is physically influenced by several elements in conveying systems. In a cyclic conveying system, a new pipe (or low humidity or no antistatic agent) tends to expedite the process to reach electrostatic equilibrium and attain high magnitude of electrostatic current at the state. In a non-cyclic horizontal conveying system, a thin film (pipe) is found to prolong the process duration to reach equilibrium, while the case with charged film (pipe) takes shorter duration to do so. © 2006 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2006

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