• pneumatic transport;
  • electrostatics;
  • large eddy simulation;
  • discrete element method;
  • numerical simulation


The methodology of coupling large eddy simulation (LES) with the discrete element method was applied for computational studies of pneumatic transport of granular materials through vertical and horizontal pipes in the presence of electrostatic effects. The LES numerical results obtained agreed well with the law of the wall for various y+-ranges. The simulations showed that a thin layer of particles formed and remained adhered to the pipe walls during the pneumatic conveying process due to the effects of strong electrostatic forces of attraction toward the pipe walls. Particle concentrations were generally higher near the pipe walls than at the pipe center resulting in the ring flow pattern observed in previous experimental studies. The close correspondence between particle velocity vectors and fluid drag force vectors was indicative of the importance of fluid drag forces in influencing particle behaviors. In contrast, the much weaker particle–particle electrostatic repulsion forces had negligible effects on particle behaviors within the system under all operating conditions considered. The electrostatic field strength developed during pneumatic conveying increased with decreasing flow rate due to increased amount of particle-wall collisions. Based on dynamic analyses of forces acting on individual particles, it may be concluded that electrostatic effects played a dominant role in influencing particle behaviors during pneumatic conveying at low flow rates, whereas drag forces became more important at high flow rates. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2012