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The effect of mixer properties and fill level on granular flow in a bladed mixer



The discrete element method was used to study the effect of mixer properties and fill level on the granular flow of monodisperse, cohesionless spheres in a bladed mixer. For fill levels just covering the span of the blades, a three-dimensional (3-D) recirculation zone develops in front of the blades, which promotes vertical and radial mixing. Increasing fill level reduces the size of the recirculation zone, decreases bed dilation and hinders particle diffusivities. However, above a critical fill level, the behavior of the particles within the span of the blade is found to be invariant of fill level. At low-fill levels, the pressure within the particle bed varies linearly with bed height and can be approximated by hydrostatics. At higher fill levels, a constant pressure region develops within the span of the blades due to the angled pitch of the blades. Cylinder wall friction is shown to significantly influence granular behavior in bladed mixers. At low-wall friction, the 3-D recirculation zone observed for high-wall friction conditions does not develop. High-wall friction leads to an increase in convective and diffusive particle mixing. Shear stresses are shown to be a function of wall friction. Blade position along the vertical axis is shown to influence flow patterns, granular temperature and stress. The effect of increasing the mixer diameter at a constant particle diameter was also studied. When the mixer diameter is larger than a critical size such that wall effects are minimized, the observed granular behavior follows simple scaling relations. Particle velocities and diffusivities scale linearly with mixer size and blade speed. Normal and shear stress profiles are found to scale linearly with the total weight of the particle bed. © 2009 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2010

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