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Keywords:

  • solid mixing;
  • segregation;
  • rotating drum;
  • radioactive particle tracking;
  • velocity profile;
  • residence time;
  • axial dispersion

The mechanisms of segregation in solids mixing, even in simple rotating drums, are not clearly understood. Although most past studies have focused on binary mixtures, this work investigates the effect of polydispersity on granular flow, mixing, and segregation in a rotating drum operated in rolling regime through particle trajectories obtained from the radioactive particle tracking technique. Velocity profiles, radial segregation, and axial dispersion coefficients for monodisperse and polydisperse systems of glass beads are analyzed with respect to rotational speed and particle size. A model is introduced to predict the residence times along streamlines and evaluate the rate at which the material renews at the free surface and within the inner layers of the bed. Our results reveal similar velocity profiles and residence times for monodisperse and polydisperse systems. They also indicate that the particles distribute along the radial direction of the drum, although not necessarily in a core/shell configuration. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 59: 1894–1905, 2013