A modelling and validation approach for predicting particle concentrations of airborne dust during the filling process of cylindrical silos

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Applied Sciences (Switzerland)


Traditionally, when undertaking feasibility studies for designing new storage facilities such as storage silos, engineers will extract design information from experiments and evaluate potential risks associated with health and safety, suitability design for reliable material flow, and quality of products. The simulation approach applied incorporates Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), and Discrete Element Modelling (DEM) approaches and experimental tests will be used for validating these simulation results. One important aspect related to handling fine and dusty materials (particles smaller than 100 microns) is the associated risk of dust explosions, which needs to be evaluated before the commissioning of storage silos; to evaluate the accumulation of fines during the silo filling process, simulations and experiments were conducted. Alumina and salt were used here as reference materials for calibration and the validation purposes. The validation efforts are significant due to the fact that the data that is accessible in simulations is vastly different to the accessible data in experiments, which is restricted by measurement techniques and equipment. Such restrictions are observed in the evaluation of particle concentrations in a large confined volume. A new methodology has been developed to evaluate concentrations in both simulations and experiments by employing a non-dimensional factor [k], here called “Concentration Rank Factor” (CRF). A significant finding of this research is that experiments and simulations can be compared using CRF. It has been found to be within 2% of the experiment averaged value of 0.64.

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