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Bulk Solids Handling

An Historical Overview and Current Developments Alan W. Roberts, Australia The industrial world depends, to a
An Historical Overview and
Current Developments
Alan W. Roberts, Australia
The industrial world depends, to a very large extent, on bulk solids
handling operations. As tonnages increase, there is the ongoing need
for more efficient, higher capacity storage, processing and transport
systems. In turn, more sophisticated analysis and design procedures
are a continuing necessity. Some significant developments from the
various fields of bulk solids handling are highlighted herein.

A review of the developments in Bulk Solids Storage, Flow and Handling is presented. While noting that the development of this subject spans a period of some

125 years, the paper focuses on the significant contributions over the past 50 years both during, and subsequent to, the work of Jenike. The work has covered such topics as flow property testing, theories of flow, modelling of particle sys- tems by continuum theory and discrete elements, vibrations of powders, blending and mixing and wall loads under initial filling, flow and pulsing conditions. The problems in many in- dustrial operations are often orders of magnitude more diffi- cult than the level of fundamental research available to solve them. So the approach is to apply a combination of theory at the current state of knowledge, some basic mechanics and “engineering judgment”. While this may satisfy the immedi- ate needs of industry, the important “spin offis the identifi- cation of areas for longer term research. While not diminish- ing the value of unconstrained, fundamental research, it is particularly important that considerable research effort be directed at those known, complex, industrial problems where

improved solutions leading to more efficient performance have a high priority. These objectives are illustrated and some thoughts for future strategic research are presented. Keywords: Bulk Solids; Particle Technology; Silos; Bins; Feed- ing; Flow; Stockpiles; Conveying



Throughout the world, the handling and processing of pow- ders and bulk materials are key operations in a great number and variety of industries. Such industries include those asso- ciated with mining, mineral processing, chemical processing, agriculture, power generation, food processing, manufactur- ing and pharmaceutical production. While the nature of the handling and processing tasks and scale of operation vary from one industry to another and, on the international scene, from one country to another according to the industrial and economic base, the relative costs of processing, storing, han- dling and transporting bulk materials are, in the majority of

Bulk Solids Handling An Historical Overview and Current Developments Alan W. Roberts, Australia The industrial world

cases, very significant. It is important, therefore, that handling and processing plants be designed and operated with a view to achieving maximum efficiency and reliability.

The advances that have been made over the past four dec- ades have emanated from the establishment of Particle Tech- nology and Bulk Solids Technology as discipline areas in their own right with strong overlapping roles. The interdisciplinary roles of these two technologies are well recognised, so much so that reference to one very often implies the inclusion of the other. There is a third discipline, namely Geomechanics, which must not be overlooked in view of its obvious interac- tive role with the other two.

Focusing on Bulk Solids Technology, reliable test procedures for determining the strength and flow properties of bulk sol- ids have been developed and analytical methods have been established to aid the design of bulk solids storage and dis- charge equipment. There has been wide acceptance by indus- try of these tests and design procedures and, as a result, there are numerous examples throughout the world of modern in- dustrial bulk solids handling installations which reflect the technological advances that have taken place.

Notwithstanding the current situation, the level of sophistica- tion required by industry demands a better understanding of the behaviour of bulk solids and the associated performance criteria for handling plant design. Experience indicates that the solution of one problem, which leads to an improvement in plant performance, often exposes other problems which need to be solved. Problems in industry frequently multiply at a faster rate than research outcomes. The importance of indus- trial orientated research cannot be too strongly emphasised.

The purpose of this paper is threefold. Firstly, to review the his- torical research developments leading to the establishment of

1796, just 8 years following the establishment of the First Set- tlement by the English in Sydney in 1788. The first export of coal occurred from the port city of Newcastle in 1801, a load of some 600 tonnes bound for India. Newcastle, situated some 160 km north of Sydney, became an active bulk export port during the nineteenth century, increasing in tonnage capacity throughout the 20th and now 21st centuries. It is now the world’s largest coal exporting port with annual tonnages cur- rently in the order of 83x10 6 tonnes with the project expansion taking this to over 100x10 6 tonnes.

Despite the design, engineering and construction of bulk han- dling port facilities that accompanied these early develop- ments, research publications did not start to appear until to- wards the end of the 19th century. The need to store grain in large quantities provided the impetus for research into silo wall loads with a series of papers on this subject commencing in the 1880’s and spanning a period of some thirty years. These pa- pers, reviewed by R [1], emanated mainly from England, Germany, Canada and the USA, with undoubtedly, the best known work of this period being that of H.A. J, the Ger- man Engineer from Bremen, who published his epic paper on silo loads in 1895 [2]. The lesser known work of J is of particular significance in view of its relevance to silo wall pres- sures during both symmetric and eccentric discharge [3,4].

  • 2.2 Bulk Solids and Particle Technology - Disciplines in their Own Right

The first half of the 20th century saw increased research in several aspects of granular and powder mechanics including such subjects as the flow rates of bulk solids through orifices in the bottom of bins and through transfer chutes. In the area of powder mechanics, the work of S and E led to a re-discovery of Janssen’s equation [5]. The various studies of granular flows relied heavily on experimental techniques, with empirical type performance equations being derived

“Some users of this text may feel that it touch
“Some users of this text may feel that it touch

upon too many apparently unrelated fields.

the disciplines of particle technology and bulk solids handling. Secondly, to review the current state of knowledge and the de- velopments in flow property testing. Thirdly, by means of case study examples, to illustrate solutions to industrial problems highlighting areas where further research is required.

This may be true, but the inclusion of such fields

was made purposely to indicate the wide

applications of a subject which should receive

recognition as deserving a place in the

engineering sciences”.

  • 2 Historical Overview

    • 2.1 Bulk Materials Handling - The Foundations

Throughout the 19th century, the emerging mining, manufac- turing and agricultural industries, gave rise to an increased need to store and handle bulk materials in large quantities. While the focus for this activity may have been North America, UK and Europe, industrial developments were also being made elsewhere in the world, notably Asia and countries of the Southern Hemisphere. Since communications had not been widely established at that time, these latter developments were not widely known, if at all. For example, coal was discov- ered in what is now known as the Hunter Valley of Australia in

from experimental results. Also the emphasis was mainly on free flowing, non-cohesive granular type materials. Refs. [6- 15] are a selection of references covering this work. This peri- od embraced included a number of studies into the perform- ance of mechanical handling and conveying equipment, such as screw conveyors, for bulk granular materials [16-21].

It was during this period that Particle Technology had its foun- dations. Reference is made here to the major contribution by J.M. D in his book entitled “Micromeritics” which was first published in 1943 [22]. As D wrote in the Preface

to the First Edition, the title “Micromeritics” was coined to rep- resent the science of small particles”. The subject matter includ- ed in the text is broad ranging including such subjects as: dy- namics; shape and size; particle-size measurement; packings; behaviour of particles under pressure; diffusion; electrical, opti- cal, sonic, surface and chemical, properties; thermodynamics of particles; flow of fluids though packings; infiltration and parti- cle-moisture relationships; capillarity; particle surface determi- nation; muds and slurries; transport of particles; dust clouds; atmospheric and industrial dust; collection and separation of particulate matter from air; theory of fine grinding; sampling.

D also wrote,

“Some users of this text may feel that it touches upon too many apparently unrelated fields. This may be true, but the inclusion of such fields was made purposely to indicate the wide applications of a subject which should receive recogni- tion as deserving a place in the engineering sciences”.

Clearly this statement reinforced the interdisciplinary nature of this new named science. While the name “Micromeritics” still remains, it has provided the foundation for what we un- derstand to be been embraced by the title ‘Particle Technol- ogy’. There can be no doubt that Particle Technology is now very firmly established amongst the engineering sciences.

  • 2.3 The Influence of Soil Mechanics

Soil mechanics as a field of science and technology had al-

ready been well developed. Therefore, it is not surprising that this field of study had a significant influence on the research into various aspects of bulk solids handling. Since soil me- chanics is mainly concerned with retaining walls, buried structures and foundation design, naturally, the internal stresses are much higher than those encountered in bulk sol- ids handling. Furthermore the main concern of soil mechan- ics is with the conditions existing within soil prior to failure, whereas the primary interest in bulk solids handling is with the conditions under which failure and flow can occur. Nev- ertheless, the general similarities between the two fields of study permit some important comparisons to be made.

The work of H [23] is of particular importance to the understanding of the mechanism of consolidation and flow of bulk solids. H, who studied the stress condition in cohesive soils, showed that the peak shear stress at failure is a function of the effective normal stress on, and the voids ratio (or density) in the plane of failure; this condition is independ- ent of the stress history of the sample. The work of H was further extended by R et al [24], who established the concept of a failure surface in the three dimensional space of shear stress, normal stress, and voids ratio. They also showed the existence of a critical voids ratio boundary at which unlimited deformation could take place without change in the stress condition and voids ratio.

  • 2.4 Bulk Solids Handling Technology - The Jenike Era

The flow of cohesive bulk solids from storage bins is a complex problem and it was not until the mid 1950’s before any real progress into the fundamental behaviour of such materials be- gan to take place. The modern developments are very largely due to the pioneering work of D. A W. Jtogether with D. J R. J, who commenced his research as a

Ph.D. student of J. A comprehensive historical review of the Jenike/Johanson story has been written by J [25].

J saw the need to learn from the research conducted in soil mechanics and relied heavily on the work of the Russian author S [26]. He also recognised the importance of plasticity theory in order to explain the flow or yielding conditions in deforming bulk solids [27, 28]. This led to the establishment of the effective yield locus and the yielding theory associated with solids flow [29].

The original research of Jenike and Johanson was conducted at the University of Utah, with the three University of Utah publications, Bulletins 108, 116 and 123, [30-32], and the pa- per by J [33] laying the foundations of the modern theory of bulk solids storage and flow. The significant results and outcome of this work included the following:

Establishment of the two principal flow modes, Mass-Flow and Funnel-Flow.

• Radial stress theory describing the flow in mass-flow hop- pers and limits for mass-flow which depend on the wall fric- tion angle φ for the bulk solid in contact with the hopper wall, the hopper half angle α and the effective angle of inter- nal friction δ.

• Flow/No-Flow criteria

• Direct shear apparatus for the determination of the flow properties of bulk solids

The Jenike theory is well proven in its application to design and analysis associated with industrial problems and projects. Jenike’s work generated a great deal of interest and stimulated a new wave of research effort in the field of bulk solids han- dling throughout the world.

  • 2.5 The Latter Years

The last 30 to 40 years has seen important developments on sev-

eral fronts including research into the properties and behaviour of particulate solids during storage and flow, further work on bin loads and applied research aimed at improving the efficiency of industrial operations. Important ‘break-throughs’ have been made possible through more sophisticated scientific equipment for experimental work and modern computer technology to as- sist the solution of complex problems. A ‘snap-shot’ of some of these developments with selected references is presented:

• Re-examination of the mass-flow and funnel-flow limits tak- ing account of the surcharge head at the hopper/cylinder transition and the establishment of the conditions for “in- termediate-flow” [34,35].

• Development of test equipment for characterising bulk solids and powders in terms of their stress/strain relationships and flow properties including boundary or wall friction [36-51].

• Analysis of vibration of bulk solids in relation to flow pro- motion [52-54].

• Studies of friction, adhesion and wear in bulk solids han- dling operations [55-59].

to th e First Edition , the title “Micromeritics” was co ined to rep- resent th

• Flow property measurement and reactor vessel design for handling and processing of stringy bulk solids, such as do- mestic waste [60], and wet bulk solids.

• Dust control and measurement of ‘dustiness’ [61].

• Flow rate predictions for fine powders discharging from mass-flow hoppers [62-64].

• Flow characteristics in hoppers and discharge equipment in relation to anti-segregation and mixing including the appli- cation of inserts [65-68].

• A new look at the prediction of rat-hole geometry in funnel- flow bins [69].

• Wall load predictions for symmetrical mass and funnel-flow bins [70-86] as well as for eccentric discharge.

• Analysis of ‘silo quaking’ in bins of various geometrical con- figurations [87-93].

• Investigations of pressures acting at the base of stockpiles and procedures for predicting the live capacity during grav- ity reclaim [94-104].

• Hopper/feeder interfacing for optimum draw-down and feeder load prediction and drive torque control [105-108].

• Performance characteristics of various feeder types includ- ing belt, apron, vibratory, screw, rotating table, tube, oscil- lating plate and rotary valves [108-120].

• Discrete and continuum approaches to the modelling of bulk solids flow [121-124].

• Pilot scale testing of bulk solids equipment using dynamic simulation [125,126].

• Studies of the flow of bulk solids through transfer chutes and development of models for chute design, including ana- lytical and numerical methods for optimising chute profiles for minimum wear [127-137].

• Mechanical conveying - belt, special belt, screw, bucket, chain [138-142 ].

• Pneumatic conveying - lean phase, dense phase, slug and plug flow [143-145].

• Hydraulic conveying, slurry, paste pumping [146, 147].

In parallel with the foregoing, research into the widely varying areas of Particle Technology has been proceeding at a very im- pressive rate. Of particular note are the quite exciting devel- opments in nanotechnology, such as in applications to medi- cal science, particle flow analysis and computer technology. The spin-off from this research to the broader areas of particle and bulk solids technology will continue to be of great value.

  • 2.6 Interdisciplinary Roles

The interrelation between Particle Technology and Bulk Sol- ids Technology requires clarification. While clearly there is a

great deal of overlap, perhaps the main distinction lies in the range of particle sizes involved and the associated fields of application. Particle Technology is associated more with finer particles commonly less than a few millimetres down to mi- cron size and currently, down to nanometres. On the other hand, Bulk Solids Technology, while concerned with fine par- ticles in the micron size range when dealing with powders and dust, the size range often extends to much larger ‘parti- cles’ which may exceed one metre in size. Such is the case when dealing with ROM ores in mining operations. Further- more bulk solids handling is often thought of as being ‘end onto the process when the operations of storage and trans- port are only considered. This is erroneous. While not dimin- ishing the importance of storage and transportation, bulk solids technology is very much an integral part of most, if not all, industrial process operations.

In considering the interdisciplinary nature of the subjects of Particle and Bulk Solids Technologies, it is important not to overlook a third research discipline, namely, Geomechanics, which embraces Soil Mechanics. All three share a common core area which embraces particle characterisation and mod- elling. The interactions between these three principal re- search disciplines are illustrated in Fig. 1.

  • 3 Developments in Bulk Solids Testing

    • 3.1 General Remarks

The foundations of process and handling plant design lies in the determination of the bulk solid flow properties and the correct interpretation of these properties in relation to the particular applications. Therefore, it is not surprising that this is a subject that has received a great deal of attention over the past three decades, with several new testers being introduced. A review of the various test methods has been presented by S [36]. Since its introduction, the Jenike direct shear test has been under fairly intense scrutiny, perhaps more so than other test methods. The European Working Party on the Mechanics of Particulate Solids of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering has completed a detailed study of the Jenike direct shear test [37].

A recent project of the Working Party was concerned with the application of the Jenike shear tester for measurement of wall or boundary friction, that is, the friction between a bulk solid and sample of hopper lining materials. Even though a series of tests was performed using the same bulk solid and same lining material, significant variations in the results oc- curred. Wall friction is one of the most important parameters in bulk solids handling systems. It is clear that it is a subject not fully understood and requiring significant research.

The limited travel of the Jenike type direct shear tester is over- come in the torsional or ring type shear testers which allow continuous shear strain to occur, making consolidation to crit- ical state conditions easier to achieve. While several torsional or ring type testers have been developed, the more recent Schulze Tester is one which is being widely adopted [38].

The need to standardise various test methods for powders and bulk solids has received the attention of various stand- ards organisations throughout the world. For example, the

Fig. 1: Interdis ciplin ar y role s of particle technology Australian Standards Association recognises the

Fig. 1: Interdisciplinary roles of particle technology

Australian Standards Association recognises the Jenike test applied to coal [39], and the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) has established several standards on flow property testing such as the shear tests due to J [40] and S [41]. An alternative bulk solid shear test procedure is the Indicizer™ developed by J [42,43] which has also been taken up as an ASTM standard. A general comment needs to be made: While these standards focus on the speci- fications for the test procedures, as far as it is known, there is no specification for the required stiffness of the load cells. Er- rors can occur when dynamic effects, such as slip-stick, are wrongly attributable to the bulk solid rather than to the test equipment.

The need for a greater fundamental understanding of the stress/strain behaviour of particulate solids created the need for more sophisticated equipment, notably the biaxial tester [44-47]. The complexity of these testers rather restricts their application to research rather than to flow property testing for design applications. The uni-axial tester provides an alter- native to the direct shear apparatus, [48-51].

The extreme variability of both bulk solids and their indus- trial applications has necessitated special test equipment to be developed. These include the dynamic shear test for bulk solid vibration analysis, inverted shear tests, large scale shear cell tests, shear tests for funnel flow where higher pressures are experienced, submerged shear tests for wet solids and “flowability” tests for quality control analysis. These are now briefly discussed.

  • 3.2 Dynamic Shear Test for Vibration Analysis

In the area of flow promotion using vibrations, the reduction both in bulk strength and wall friction as a function of vibra- tion frequency and amplitude have been investigated [52- 54]. The vibrated shear cells used in this work are shown in Fig. 2.

For a given consolidation condition, vibration excitation dur- ing shear deformation has shown that the shear strength re- duces exponentially as the amplitude of vibration velocity

increases, as indicated in Fig. 3. This is a similar characteristic to the reduction in shear strength with increase in voidage as in the H diagram. The shear stress as a function of vibration velocity amplitude is given by

Fig. 1: Interdis ciplin ar y role s of particle technology Australian Standards Association recognises the

The constant U in Eq. (1) is the bulk solid vibration velocity constant. The experimental evidence suggests that U is inde- pendent of the consolidation pressure and applied normal pressure. By way of example, U = 7 mm/s for pyrophyllite and U = 10 mm/s for iron ore. Knowing the value of U for the particu- lar bulk solid, the values of the relative amplitude X r and fre- quency f for maximum shear strength may be estimated from

Fig. 1: Interdis ciplin ar y role s of particle technology Australian Standards Association recognises the

From a practical point of view, the application of high fre- quency (f ≥ 100 hz) and low amplitude (≈ 0.1 mm) vibration generally produces the best results in promoting flow. Some studies of the transmission of vibration energy through con- solidated bulk solids have also been undertaken [53].

  • 3.3 The Inverted Shear Tester

A disadvantage of the Jenike direct shear tester for wall fric- tion measurement, Fig. 4(a), is the inability to determine the wall or boundary yield locus in the low pressure and tensile stress zones. This difficulty may be overcome by the inverted shear tester, Fig. 4(b). In this way the properties of adhesion and cohesion may be deduced [55-57]. The complete wall yield locus is depicted in Fig. 5. In the test equipment of Fig. 4(b), the retaining shear cylinder is retracted during each test

Fig. 1: Interdis ciplin ar y role s of particle technology Australian Standards Association recognises the
Fig. 2: Test arrangements for vibrated shear cells Fig. 3: Shear stress attenuation as a function
Fig. 2:
Test arrangements for vibrated shear cells
Fig. 3:
Shear stress attenuation as a function of relative velocity on
shear plane: -1 mm Pyrophyllite; 5% M.C. (d.b.) consolida-
tion pressure = 7.9 kPa; X 1 = 0.01 mm
Fig. 1: Interdis ciplin ar y role s of particle technology Australian Standards Association recognises the
Fig. 1: Interdis ciplin ar y role s of particle technology Australian Standards Association recognises the
Fig. 4: Test arrangement for determination of Wall Yield Lo ci Fig. 5: Wall friction an

Fig. 4: Test arrangement for determination of Wall Yield Loci

Fig. 4: Test arrangement for determination of Wall Yield Lo ci Fig. 5: Wall friction an

Fig. 5: Wall friction and adhesion

Fig. 4: Test arrangement for determination of Wall Yield Lo ci Fig. 5: Wall friction an

Fig. 6: Build-up on surfaces S = shear force; B = body force; F o = adhesive force

a sufficient amount clear of the lining material surface. The low pressure properties are relevant to chutes and standpipes where sufficient body forces must be generated to prevent build up on inclined, vertical and overhead surfaces as illus- trated in Fig. 6.

  • 3.4 Large Scale Shear Testers

The standard Jenike type shear testers employ shear cells of 95 mm internal diameter, with the maximum particle size commonly limited to -4 mm. To allow higher consolidation

Fig. 7: Submerged Shear Tests

pressures to be achieved, a smaller shear cell of 65 mm diam- eter is often used. These cell sizes are satisfactory for most applications particularly for mass-flow design where the fo- cus is on the cohesive arch analysis for flow to occur.

However, there are applications where the restriction to the finer particle size range is too conservative. This applies to funnel-flow and expanded-flow, particularly in the case of gravity reclaim stockpiles, where the ratholes are large in di- ameter and several metres high, being formed by a large size range of particles. For this reason a 300 mm diameter direct shear tester has been developed at the University of Newcas- tle. Furthermore, in the case of ROM stockpiles for mineral ores, it is not uncommon for consolidation stresses to ap- proach 1 MPa. Since it is not practical to achieve such pres- sures using weights, a hydraulic load cylinder is incorporated in the large shear tester.

There are also advantages in wall friction measurement to be able to test a wider size range of bulk solids. For this reason, a 300 mm diameter inverted shear tester based on Fig. 4(b) has also been manufactured. The larger diameter shear cells offer advantages in testing stringy, fibrous bulk materials such as domestic waste [60].

  • 3.5 Shear Tests for Wet Solids

Wet solids handling is an area of increasing interest. At present, it seems to fall ‘in no man’s land’ between rheology and bulk solids. Applications commonly concern the design of vessels for the storage and gravity flow of super-saturated bulk solids. Where the solids may settle out of suspension during storage, it is necessary to ensure that gravity discharge may occur without blockages due to arching or ‘ratholing’. For this reason the storage vessel should be designed for mass-flow. The required hopper geometrical parameters may be determined for saturated bulk solid samples using sub- merged shear tests as depicted in Fig. 7. Clearly, this is an area requiring more research.

  • 3.6 Flowability Tester

A flowability tester, developed by University of Newcastle, is depicted in Fig. 8 [51]. In effect, this is an unconfined com- pression test in which the lateral pressure is controllable dur- ing the consolidation phase by means of pneumatic actua- tors attached to the three segments of the mould cylinder.

Fig. 8(a) shows the segments of the mould cylinder retracted and their support arms swung clear. Fig. 8(b) shows the arms lock in place and the segments clamped together to contain

Fig. 4: Test arrangement for determination of Wall Yield Lo ci Fig. 5: Wall friction an
a) Arms Swung Clear b) Mo uld Segments Clamped Togehter
a) Arms Swung Clear b) Mo uld Segments Clamped Togehter
  • a) Arms Swung Clear

b) Mould Segments Clamped Togehter

Fig. 8: Flowability tester

the bulk solid or powder sample during the consolidation phase of the test. For the unconfined phase of the test, the segments are retracted to leave the consolidated cylindrical sample exposed so that the axial load may be applied to ef- fect failure. When compared with the Jenike direct shear test which is somewhat time consuming, the flowability tester provides a much quicker analysis of the flow properties of a bulk solid, the device being particularly suitable for quality control testing.

  • 3.7 Abrasive Wear Tests

Test equipment to measure the wear characteristics of hop- per and chute lining materials has been developed. The test- er due to J and R [58] employs a screw extrud- er type apparatus which forces the bulk solid against a sam- ple of lining material prepared as circular disc and which is driven in rotation by dynamometer device. A disadvantage of this arrangement is the preparation of the lining sample in circular form to fit the dynamometer. The difficulty is more pronounced in the case of hard lining surfaces which cannot be machined.

The apparatus shown in Fig. 9 overcomes this difficulty since the test sample which is nominally 150 mm square does not need to be prepared with great accuracy [55,56]. The belt de- livers a continuous supply of the bulk material at a required velocity to the sample of material to be tested, which is held in position by a retaining bracket secured to load cells that monitor the shear load. The bulk material is drawn under the sample to a depth of several millimetres by the wedge action of the inclined belt. Three body wear conditions are thus gen- erated.

Fig. 9: Linear action wear test apparatus

a) Arms Swung Clear b) Mo uld Segments Clamped Togehter Fig. 8: Flowa bili ty tester

The required normal load is applied by weights on top of the sample holding bracket. The bulk material is cycled back to the surge bin via a bucket elevator and chute. The apparatus is left to run for extended periods interrupted at intervals to allow measurement of the test sample’s weight and surface roughness as required. The measured weight loss is then con- verted to the loss in thickness of lining material.

While the linear action wear tester described above has been shown to be a very effective wear tester, the disadvantage lies in the bucket elevator recirculating system which is subject to equipment wear. To overcome this problem, the circular wear tester illustrated in Fig. 10 has been developed [59]. In this tester a plough, followed by a surface levelling and consoli- dating device, is incorporated to turn over the bulk solid wear media to present a “freshsurface of bulk solid to the test sample each revolution. The tester has the advantage of al- lowing two lining samples to be tested at the same time

  • 3.8 Dustiness Tests

For obvious environmental reasons, the control of dust in bulk solids handling and processing plants has a high priority. Through proper design, passive (non energy) dust control can be achieved in process plants such as in conveyor feeding and transfer operation. In open transport operations such as rail wagons and large storage systems, notably stockpiles, the control of dust generation due to windage needs to be achieved. This is particularly important in the case of the storage and transport of mineral ores such as coal where the propensity for dust generation will vary with moisture con- tent and coal type.

Australian Standard AS 4156.6-2000 [61] provides the specifi- cation of the test equipment and measurement procedures for the determination of the dust versus moisture relationship for coal. The test is also of value for the assessment of surface sealing surfactants for controlling dust losses due to windage from open stockpiles. While the Standard refers specifically to coal, it is equally useful as a test for virtually all bulk solids.

The test equipment is shown in Fig. 11. It consists of a rotating drum fitted with eight longitudinal vanes or lifters to assist the dust dispersion. The test sample is placed in this drum and air is drawn through the sample as it rotates carrying dust parti- cles to the stationary filter collection bag held within the sealed stationary compartment. The specific details of the test procedure are given in the Standard. Besides this particular test, wind tunnel tests are also used for dustiness tests.

  • 4 Bin Wall Loads

    • 4.1 Early Silo Research

While silos have been in existence for many centuries, the first meaningful research into silo loads was performed over the period embracing of some 30 years commencing in the early 1880’s. A review of this early silo load research is given in Ref. [1]. The most widely known work in the early period of silo research is that due to the German Engineer, H.A. J [2]. This work is significant in that it recognised some fundamen- tal aspects of internal and boundary friction which limit the magnitude of the loads on silo floors and walls. By compari- son, little is known of the work of the Canadian Engineer, J.A.

a) Arms Swung Clear b) Mo uld Segments Clamped Togehter Fig. 8: Flowa bili ty tester
a) Photograph of Wear Tester
a) Photograph of Wear Tester
a) Photograph of Wear Tester b) Elevation of Tester

b) Elevation of Tester

Fig. 10: Circular action wear tester

J [3,4], whose contributions over the period 1902-04 are twofold. Firstly, during symmetrical discharge he showed that the wall pressures increased above the filling pressures during discharge. Secondly, and even more significantly, he examined eccentric discharge and showed that the wall loads on the side nearest the discharge outlet are lower than those for symmetrical discharge, but greater on the opposite side. Thus he demonstrated the non symmetry of the wall pres- sures. Had his research been more widely known, some of the silo failures that occurred some 80 or more years later may have been avoided.

  • 4.2 More Recent Research

Following the foundation work of J, the study of bin wall loads gained new impetus [70-80]. With the flow modes clearly defined and the advantages of mass-flow being identi- fied, the need for determining the wall loadings in mass-flow bins became a necessity. In addition, the better understand- ing of the characteristics of funnel-flow and the definition of the ‘effective transition’ provided the scope for formalising the computation of wall loads in funnel-flow bins. There was the realisation that bin wall loads are directly related to the flow pattern developed during discharge, and this led to the conclusion that, wherever possible, bin shapes should be kept as simple as possible. While symmetry of the flow channel is

Fig. 11: Dustiness tester

a) Photograph of Wear Tester b) Elevation of Tester Fig. 10: Circular action wear tester J

seen as a desirable goal, from a practical point of view, it is virtually impossible to guarantee symmetrical loading. For instance the filling of the bin needs to be exactly central which, from a practical point of view, is unlikely. Secondly, the interfacing of the hopper with the feeder may skew the flow pattern.

The need for ongoing research into bin wall loads had also been encouraged, to a significant extent, by an increase in the number of reported bin and silo failures. As a result, there was a pressing need to revise existing bin load codes and to develop new codes in countries where such codes have not previously existed. The Australian Standard AS3774-1996 is one example of the latter [81]. This standard is quite compre- hensive, addressing a wide range of silo loading conditions including eccentric loads due to non symmetrical flow pat- terns. The new Eurocode covers the subject of silo loadings in great detail [82].

Major advances in the study of bin loads have been achieved through the application of finite element analysis [83-86]. This has greatly assisted the analysis of complex loading pat- terns in multi-outlet bins and bins operating with eccentric discharge.

Other problems in silo loading have been investigated. These include grain silos where an increase in moisture content of the stored grain due to aeration can lead to grain swelling. This can cause reverse friction at the wall leading to an expo- nential increase in the normal wall pressure [80]. If this oc- curs, wall pressures several times the static value given by J’ equation may result. A similar effect may occur as a result of temperature variations on a daily as well as seasonal basis. Settlement of the stored product during the expansion phase leads to increased pressures during the contraction phase. Other research has involved the application of anti- dynamic tubes to control the pressures in tall grain silos [79].

  • 4.3 Silo Quaking and Honking

A recurring problem in bin and silo loadings is that due to the

phenomenon of silo quaking. Gravity flow in bins and silos, characteristically, is a cyclic or pulsating type flow. The pulsa- tions arise as a result of changes in density and dilation during flow and by varying degrees of mobilisation of the internal

friction and boundary wall fric- tion. The quaking problem is largely a slip-stick effect and is more pronounced at low flow rates where the period of puls- ing may be from a few seconds to many seconds or even min- utes. The outcome of the quak- ing may range from nuisance value arising from the transmis- sion of shock waves through the ground to disturb neighbouring areas, to structural fatigue fail- ure when the natural frequen- cies of the silo and structure it- self are excited by the flow puls- es. Research into the quaking phenomenon, supported by in- dustrial case studies has been reported by R and W-  at the University of New- castle [87-91].

friction an d boundar y wall fric- tion. Th e quaking proble m is largely a

Fig. 12: Tall mass-flow silo

A variation of the silo quaking problem is silo music and silo ‘honking’ have been reported by T and G [92,93]. The ‘honking’ phenomenon is known to occur in tall aluminium silos which store plastic powders. In this case the higher frequency components of the flow pulsations can give rise to loud, periodic, fog horn type sounds that have a decid- edly nuisance effect.

‘Silo quaking’ can occur in bins of all shapes and under a vari- ety of flow patterns. The phenomenon has been experienced in tall mass-flow silos, tall funnel-flow silos, squat funnel-flow, expanded-flow and intermediate flow bins and multi-outlet bins. As an illustration, the case of the tall mass-flow silo de- picted in Fig. 12 is briefly reviewed.

W [89,90] used hypo-plasticity theory to study the shock waves travelling up tall silos during discharge. He showed that the amplitude of the wave front increases exponentially up the cylindrical section of the silo as illustrated in Fig. 13. From a practical point of view, quaking is known to occur if the height of fill is above a critical height H cr where H cr D, D being the silo diameter or width (Fig. 12). Above the height H cr , plug type flow occurs with the velocity profile substantially uniform

Fig. 13: Dynamic loads induced in silo

friction an d boundar y wall fric- tion. Th e quaking proble m is largely a
friction an d boundar y wall fric- tion. Th e quaking proble m is largely a

Fig. 14: Pulse period versus velocity - a = 1 m/s 2

across the cross-section. Below the critical level, in the region of the transition, the flow starts to converge due to the influence of the hopper and the velocity profile is no longer uniform. The velocity profile is further developed in the hopper as shown. As the flow pressures generate in the hopper, dilation of the bulk solid occurs. As a result of this dilation, it is possible that the vertical supporting pressures decrease slightly reducing the support given to the plug of bulk solid in the cylinder. This causes the plug to drop momentarily giving rise to a load pulse. The cycle is then repeated.

Based on the dynamic load condition as depicted in Fig. 13, a theory for predicting the pulse period T has been developed, the period being shown to be a function of the strain rate or average velocity of discharge in the upper cylindrical section of the bin. The period is also shown to be a function of the average particle size Δy. A sample set of pulse period results is shown in Fig. 14. These results compare closely to those measured in the field.

A critical factor in the operation of silos under quaking con- ditions is the influence of the dynamic characteristics of the overall structure. By way of illustration, Fig. 15 shows a typical arrangement of a silo supported on columns from a concrete base which, in turn, is supported on piles driven into the ground. In view of the significant decrease in the silo mass from the full to the empty condition, there is a corresponding increase in the natural frequencies as follows:

friction an d boundar y wall fric- tion. Th e quaking proble m is largely a
  • 4.4 Dynamic Loads Due to High Load-Out Rates

Dynamic loads also occur during flood type loading of mineral ores into rail wagons. As an illustration, the case of an iron ore train loading bin, illustrated in Fig. 16, is considered. Each wagon holds 120 tonnes of ore, the filling time per wagon being ap- proximately 50 sec. The load out is controlled by a clam shell gate operating on a swinging chute as depicted. As an empty

friction an d boundar y wall fric- tion. Th e quaking proble m is largely a
Fig. 15: Si mpli fied dynamic model of silos wagon moves under the bi n load

Fig. 15: Simplified dynamic model of silos

wagon moves under the bin load-out chute, there is an initial surge in the flow rate peaking around 60,000 t/h. This causes high verti- cal and lateral impactloads. Once the chute chokes, the remainder of the wagon is loaded at a rate of approxi- mately 7000 t/h, with the flow rate reduced to zero as the gate closes with the wagon full. The shock loads on the bin and structure need to be taken into ac-

count in the design.

centre with the pressure at the centre decreasing as depicted in Fig. 17. One of the earliest papers to show the existence of the dip in pressure towards the centre of the pile is due to S and N [94], who performed small scale, bench top experi- mental studies. The M-distribution has also been shown to oc- cur using DEM simulation. However, due to the current limita- tion in computing power, DEM is restricted to small heaps in- volving a few thousand particles, whereas actual industrial stockpiles may contain in excess of 10 12 particles of widely vary- ing size and shape.

The problem has attracted the attention of a group of physi- cists whose aim was to produce a complete explanation of the central dip in pressure under small sand piles. As shown by W et al [99,100], the assumption of a “fixed princi- pal axis” (FPA) has allowed the development of a model that can reproduce the classic pressure dip. The complexity of the apparently simple sand pile problem has been highlighted by A W who wrote [101],

  • 5 Gravity Reclaim Stockpiles

A subject of importance to the mining and mineral process- ing industries concerns the design of gravity reclaim stock- piles. It involves the determination of live capacity, loads on reclaim tunnels and the loads on reclaim hoppers and feeders. Typically stockpiles range in

height from 20 to 40 metres, with one known copper ore stockpile in Irian Jaya having a height of 70 metres. On such a scale, the consequence of fail- ure of the reclaim tunnel due to the high base pressures may well be catastrophic, so the temptation is to err on the con- servative side in the design. Yet, the cost of being too conserva- tive cannot be sustained on economic grounds. Hence, the need to be able to predict the base pressures under all loading conditions is strongly empha- sised.

  • 5.1 Base Pressures

“the humble sand pile is to granular mechanics as Fermat’s Last Theorem was to number theory: a tantalising simple problem that stubbornly eludes solution”.

The recent research confirming the existence of the M-distribu- tion by MB [102] is quite comprehensive and worthy of

particular note. MB conducted ex- periments on 2m high pilot scale conical stockpiles formed by gravel. An example of his results is shown in Fig. 18(a). He also established a limit slope theory to predict M-distribution of stockpiles of conical and other geometries. H Y Jcon-

Fig. 16: Load-out bin for filling iron ore rail wagons

a) Train Loading Bin b) Bin Flow Patterns and Loads c) Wagon Load Rates and Total
a) Train Loading Bin
b) Bin Flow Patterns and Loads
c) Wagon Load Rates and Total Load
d) Rail Wagon Load Patterns
Fig. 15: Si mpli fied dynamic model of silos wagon moves under the bi n load

By way of background, the fun- damental research into the pres- sure distributions under small heaps or piles formed by free flowing materials is reviewed. This research has been approached, essentially, on three fronts, experimentally, analytically and numerically using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Discrete Element Modelling (DEM), [94-98].

Intuitively, it would seem that the pressures ex- erted at the base would be ‘hydrostatic’, the dis- tribution mirroring the conical shape of the pile with the maximum pressure occurring at the mid point directly under the apex. It is now known that the pressure distribution is M-shaped with the maximum pressure occurring away from the

“The humble sand pile is to granular mechan
“The humble sand pile is to granular mechan

as Fermat’s Last Theorem was to number theory:

ducted extensive numerical simulations using a special FEA package [103]. He also assumed axi-symmetry to accommodate the 2-dimensional stress field. As shown in Fig. 18(b), H Y’ prediction of MB’ results show close agreement. In both cases the pressures, as plotted, are normalised.

a tantalising simple problem that stubbornly

eludes solution”.

“The humble sand pile is to granular mechan as Fermat’s Last Theorem was to number theory:
Fig. 17: Granular heap or stockpile Fig. 18: Research into pressures under stockpiles
Fig. 17:
Granular heap or stockpile
Fig. 18:
Research into pressures under stockpiles
  • a) Experimental Work - McBride [102 ]

a) Experimental Wo rk - McBrid e [102 ] b) Numerica l Simulation - H.Y. Jeong

b) Numerical Simulation - H.Y. Jeong[103]

H Y’ research has extended to the loads on soft ground and to the prediction of pressure distributions around reclaim tunnels. The limitation of his work is that the analyses are limited to free-flowing cohesionless materials, but follow up research on stockpiles formed from cohesive materials is now underway.

In mining operations, the bulk solid is quite heterogeneous, comprising a wide range of particle shapes and particle sizes from large rocks to a few microns in a random packing array. The random behaviour is influenced by the loading arrange- ment and consequent segregation that may result. The bulk solid is mostly cohesive, its strength varying with moisture and consolidation. The consolidation conditions will vary with time throughout the stockpile and be influenced by the load- ing and unloading cycle, variations with weather conditions and with external loading such as the use of large mobile equipment, for example bulldozers, that may be used to work the surface of the pile. In addition, differential bonding or ce- menting of particles forming the pile usually occurs due to drying or baking of the bulk solid. Under extreme rainfall con- ditions, stockpile slumping may occur giving rise to complex, variable base loading conditions.

  • 5.2 Loads on Reclaim Hoppers and Feeders

In order to relate current research to industrial stockpile design some relevant aspects are briefly reviewed. The purpose of a stockpile is to store bulk solids and reclaim them by either me- chanical means or by gravity flow as illustrated in Fig. 19. In the case of gravity reclaim, mass-flow hoppers and feeders are em- ployed as illustrated, discharge being by expanded-flow.

Knowing the flow properties of the bulk solid, it is possible to estimate the draw-down h D and the corresponding shape of the crater formed by gravity discharge. The use of mass-flow

reclaim hoppers interfaced with the feeders is important from the point of view of achieving reliable feed, and, in par- ticular, for controlling the loads on the feeders and the cor- responding drive torques and powers. Due to the arched stress field conditions in the hopper after feeding has been initiated, even if the feeder is then stopped with the stockpile still relatively full, the load Q f on the feeder is independent of the surcharge head. The load Q f is much lower than the initial load Q i which occurs when the crater is filled from the empty condition.

The initial load Q i on the feeder is more difficult to predict and may vary considerably from when the stockpile is filled for the first time to when a pre-formed rathole or flow-channel is filled from the empty condition after the stockpile has been in use. While the very conservative approach is to assume that the surcharge pressure p s is equal to the hydrostatic pressure, this will normally result in an over-design which cannot be justified on economic grounds. If a pre-formed flow channel

“The humble sand pile is to granular mechan as Fermat’s Last Theorem was to number theory:
Fig. 19: Gravity re cl ai m stockpile exists, then this channel will act as a

Fig. 19: Gravity reclaim stockpile

exists, then this channel will act as a pseudo bin or silo in which the shear stresses generated at the boundaries will pro- vide support for the load generated by the bulk solid and re- duce the surcharge pressure p s . Even when a stockpile is filled for the first time, there is likely to be an initial settlement of the bulk solid at the transition level of the hopper and stock- pile. This will help to define the flow channel and reduce, at least partially, the surcharge pressure p s .

So much depends on the characteristics of the bulk solid, its compressibility, particle size range and moisture content. Al- so the physical scale of the operation needs to be noted. For

instance, mass-flow hoppers, typically, may have dimensions

  • L T (Fig. 19) in the order of 10 to 15 m, while the apron feeders may be such that B is 2 to 2.5 m.

    • 5.3 Draw-Down and Live Capacity

The determination of draw-down and live capacity, based on Fig. 20 is described in Ref. [104]. The procedures are adapted from the Jtheory for funnel-flow design in which the critical rathole diameter D f is determined from the following equation:

Fig. 19: Gravity re cl ai m stockpile exists, then this channel will act as a


γ = γ g = bulk specific weight

φ t = static angle of internal friction determined from the Time Yield Loci

σ c = unconfined yield strength

The function G(φ t ) is given by J as a design graph in Ref. [32]. It may be represented by the following empirical equa- tion

Fig. 19: Gravity re cl ai m stockpile exists, then this channel will act as a

It is noted that the Jenike analysis is based on a 2-dimensional stress field for both axi-symmetry and plane symmetry with vertical and radial coordinates and major and minor principal stresses σ 1 and σ 2 respectively. The strength of a rathole is governed by the hoop strength, which is a function of the consolidation stress σ 3 in the 3rd or circumferential direction.

As an approximation, it is reasonable to assume that σ 3 is equal to the average consolidation stress

Fig. 19: Gravity re cl ai m stockpile exists, then this channel will act as a

where δ = effective angle of internal friction

It has been found that an acceptable estimate of σ 1 is given by

Fig. 19: Gravity re cl ai m stockpile exists, then this channel will act as a

where z = depth below stockpile surface, and θ r = angle of repose

By calculating σ 1 for various values of z and applying Eq. (7) to determine σ 3 , the corresponding values of σ c are obtained from the Time Flow Function determined from the flow prop- erty tests. Hence the critical rathole diameter D f as a function of z = h D is obtained using Eq. (5). This enables the D f versus h D graph shown in Fig. 20 to be obtained.

A somewhat empirical, but satisfactory approach to the de- termination of the draw-down and crater geometry is depict- ed in Fig. 20. It is assumed that the rathole forms as an ellipse above the hopper transition with major axis D R equal to the diagonal of the rectangle defining the hopper transition and minor axis B R . The sides of the crater slope away at the angle ε p on the sides and angle ε c on the ends. At the height h c the rathole becomes circular and continues to slope away at the angle ε c . The angles ε c and ε depend on the angle of internal friction δ and are given in Ref. [104]. Where the crater expan- sion line intersects the D f versus h D graph the rathole be- comes critically stable. This defines the draw-down. Above this level the bulk solid sloughs off at angle approximating the effective angle of internal friction δ.


With the crater geometry determined as described, the pre- dicted live capacity can be readily obtained using by compu- ter simulation employing a suitable CAD package. As an ex- ample, Fig. 21 shows the simulation of a kidney-shaped iron ore stockpile with twin outlets. The model was produced in advance of the plant construction to predict the live capacity

Fig. 20: Determination of rathole geometry and stockpile draw-down

Fig. 19: Gravity re cl ai m stockpile exists, then this channel will act as a
a) CAD Simulation of Draw-Down Craters
CAD Simulation of Draw-Down Craters


View of Actual Stockpile Showing Draw-Down and Craters

a) CAD Simulation of Draw-Down Craters b) View of Actual Stockpile Showing Dra w-D own and

Fig. 21: Simulation and draw-down performance of iron ore stockpile

Fig. 22: Belt and apron feeders Fig. 23: Optimum divergence angle versus L/B ratio for a
Fig. 22:
Belt and apron feeders
Fig. 23:
Optimum divergence angle versus L/B ratio for a range of
clearance ratios η V = 0.75; C e = 0.5

and feeder loads. The photograph of the stockpile during subsequent operation indicates good agreement with the CAD model.

  • 5.4 Areas for Further Research

The stockpile studies have highlighted areas for further re- search, particularly in the prediction of rathole geometry during funnel-flow. It is noted that J has undertaken work in this area with respect to funnel-flow and expanded flow bins, where the diameter of the bin is shown to have an influence on the rathole geometry [69]. This is not taken into account in the original J theory. Since in the case of grav- ity reclaim stockpiles, there are no defining bin wall bounda- ries, the problem is more complex.

  • 6 Feeding of Bulk Solids

There are many types of feeders such as belt, apron, oscillat- ing plate, screw, vibratory, rotary table, plough and rotary valve and their selection is based on the particular process requirements and properties of the powder or bulk solid. In general, the subject of feeder loads and feeder design and performance has been researched in some detail [105-120].

Two principal objectives need to be met. Firstly, to achieve the correct interfacing of the feeder with the mass-flow hop- per for optimum draw-down without segregation. Secondly, to determine the feeder loads and drive powers for both start-up and running conditions. These two objectives are briefly discussed.

  • 6.1 Hopper/Feeder Interfacing

As an example, the interfacing problem of belt feeders and mass-flow hoppers, illustrated in Fig. 22, has also been stud- ied in some detail by Sand S [107], and by R [108]. The primary aim is to achieve uniform draw- down in the hopper in order to avoid localised wear of the back or front walls of the hopper depending on the flow pat- tern as well as avoiding segregation problems. As shown by R, the optimum divergence angle λ for uniform draw down along the hopper varies with the length to width ratio, L/B, as illustrated in Fig. 23.

As a further example, the case of screw feeders is considered, where the optimum draw-down is achieved by combinations of expanding pitch and tapered shaft as illustrated in Fig. 24. Where it is necessary to smooth the discharge, such as when feeding into a pneumatic conveying system, this may be achieved by a combi- nation of plug extrusion and multi blade rotary scraper as illus- trated in Fig. 25 [111]. It needs to be noted that multiple start screws give rise to jamming and should not be used [110].

  • 6.2 Feeder Loads and Drive Power

The determination of feeder loads and drive powers requires a knowledge of the stress fields generated in the hopper. The re- lationship between the vertical pressure p v generated in a mass-flow bin during both filling and flow and the feeder load V is illustrated in Fig. 26. Under filling conditions, a peaked or ‘active’ stress field is generated throughout the entire bin as shown. Once flow is initiated, an arched or ‘passive’ stress field is generated in the hopper and a much greater proportion of the bin surcharge load on the hopper is supported by the up-

a) CAD Simulation of Draw-Down Craters b) View of Actual Stockpile Showing Dra w-D own and
Fig. 24: Scre w feeder Fig. 25: Smoothing discharge pe r part of th e ho

Fig. 24: Screw feeder

Fig. 24: Scre w feeder Fig. 25: Smoothing discharge pe r part of th e ho

Fig. 25: Smoothing discharge

per part of the hopper walls. Consequently, the load acting on the feeder substantially reduces as shown in Fig. 26(b).

It is quite common for the load acting on the feeder under flow conditions to be in the order of 20%of the initial load. The arched stress field is quite stable and is maintained even if the flow is stopped. This means that once flowis initiated and then the feed- er is stopped while the bin is still full, the arched stress field is re- tained and the load on the feeder remains at the reduced value.

The work on feeder loads [108] allows good predictions of running torques and powers to be made. Referring to the belt or apron feeder of Fig. 22, the analysis requires consideration of the various components of the drive resistance based on the loading conditions depicted. These components are:

shear resistance of bulk solid along shear surface

• skirtplate friction in the hopper zone and in the extended zone beyond the hopper

• belt or apron support idler friction due to combined bulk solid and belt or apron load

tially exists in the hopper just prior to starting. This may be achieved by such procedures as:

Cushioning in the hopper, that is leaving a quantity of mate- rial in the hopper as buffer storage. This preserves the arched stress field from the previous discharge

• Starting the feeder under the empty hopper before filling commences.

• Using transverse, triangular-shaped inserts

• Raising the feeder up against the hopper bottom during filling and then lowering the feeder to the operating condi- tion prior to starting. In this way an arched stress field may be fully or partially established.

The choice of mounting arrangement for a feeder can assist in generating a preliminary arched stress field near the outlet sufficient to moderate both the initial feeder load and start- ing power. In some cases belt feeders are mounted on helical springs, where the initial deflection of the springs during fill- ing of the bin can assist in generating an arched pressure field near the outlet and reduce the initial load. An alternative ar- rangement is to incorporate a jacking system to lift the feeder up against the bottom of the hopper during filling. Before starting, the feeder is released to its operating position suffi- cient to cause some movement of the bulk solid in order to generate a cushion effect. The use of a slide gate or valve above the feeder is another way of limiting the initial load and power. The gate is closed during filling and opened after the feeder has been started.

For ‘emergency’ purposes, the provision of jacking or capstan screws as illustrated in Fig. 27 can be used to lower the feeder should a peaked stress field be established on filling and there is insufficient power to start the feeder. Lowering the feeder can induce, either fully or partially, an arched stress field and

Fig. 24: Scre w feeder Fig. 25: Smoothing discharge pe r part of th e ho

• slope resistance due to the inclination (or declination) of the feeder

Fig. 26:

Vertical pressure and load variations on feeder

Fig. 27:

Use of jacking screws to lower the feeder

An important aspect of the design is to ensure that the hop- per and feeder interface geometry is satisfactory to ensure that there is sufficient friction between the belt or apron sur- face to effect feeding without slip and consequent accelerat- ed wear of the feeder surface.

  • 6.3 Controlling Feeder Loads

The loads on feeders and the torque during start-up may be

controlled by ensuring that an arched stress field fully or par-

Fig. 24: Scre w feeder Fig. 25: Smoothing discharge pe r part of th e ho

allow the feeder to be started. This precaution is useful for feeders installed under stockpiles where surcharge pressures as high as 1000 kPa may be experienced.

  • 6.4 Further Research

There is a need for more fundamental research into the stress fields in the feed zones associated with the hopper and feeder interface. Using a continuum approach, this is a three dimen- sional stress problem. The current theories, as outlined in Sec- tion 6.2, are mainly based on a lateral two dimensional stress field in the hopper with the application of ‘equivalentfriction coefficients to allow the shear forces in the orthogonal direc- tion to the plane of stress symmetry to be computed.

  • 7 Numerical and Experimental Simulation

Current advances in continuum and discrete element me- chanics, and their associated computational methods FEA and DEM respectively, are also helping push the frontiers of particle and bulk solids technology forward at an impressive rate. Such advances have been made possible through the rapid developments of modern computing systems. Even so, the simulation of bulk granular solids by FEA and DEM can be costly in terms of computer time. While, for example, DEM is currently limited by the number, size range and shape of par- ticles to be handled, the method is particularly useful for studying localised flow behaviour such as the interface zones of hoppers and feeders. For such modelling to be accurate, the need for research into the constitutive relationships to describe the bulk material assumes a high priority.

There is much to learn from the physics of particle interac- tions and considerable work has been done on this subject. As an example, the work of D [121] and of T-  [122] is mentioned, as is the work of the author in the examination of the energy losses due to boundary and inter- granular friction in chute flow [127]. There are many others, including those involved in the sixties with the gravity flow of spheres in hoppers as part of the work at that time in nuclear science when pebble bed reactors were in vogue. There are now numerous papers showing DEM applied to a wide range of bulk solids handling problems. As an example, the work of C [123] in simulating the operation of a ball mill is cited. A critical review of DEM has been presented by T [124].

In acknowledging the developments in numerical simulation, it is important not to neglect the ‘old and tried’ method of experimental simulation employing dimensional analysis and dynamic similarity. These procedures have been successfully adapted in model testing and prototype performance predic- tion of a range of bulk solids handling equipment and opera- tions. These include gravity discharge from bins and bulk rail wagons, stockpiles, screw conveyors for grain handling and large feeding equipment for handling run-of-mine (R.O.M.) prior to the primary crushing operation [125,126]. As an il- lustration, the simulation of the ROM feeder shown in Fig. 28 is briefly reviewed.

The mechanics of such feeders as described in the cited refer- ences is based on several industrial projects performed at the University of Newcastle. The feeding action is made possible by the geometry of the hopper, which should be of mass-flow

allow th e feeder to be starte d. This precaution is useful for feeder s in

Fig. 28: Open front, inclined apron feeder

design, and the inclination angle of the feeder. Since there is no front face in the hopper and shear gate, the feeding action in this case is made possible by both the large inclination an- gle θ and release angle ψ. Typically, inclination angles range from 18 o to 26 o .

While the scale for the model in relation to the prototype is selected largely on practical grounds, account must be taken of the measured flow properties of the bulk solid. The non- dimensional consolidation stress parameter N σ1 is relevant in this case

allow th e feeder to be starte d. This precaution is useful for feeder s in

where σ 1 = consolidation stress, ρ = bulk density and x = characteristic dimension, which may be the head of bulk sol- ids, h, or the hopper opening dimension B.

The corresponding speeds for the model tests are governed by the Froude Number

allow th e feeder to be starte d. This precaution is useful for feeder s in

Hence the corresponding speed for the model tests is given by

allow th e feeder to be starte d. This precaution is useful for feeder s in

where the subscripts “m” and “p” refer to the “model” and “prototype” respectively.

Thenon-dimensionalparameters governing themassthrough- put Q, torque T and power P are respectively,

allow th e feeder to be starte d. This precaution is useful for feeder s in
  • 8 Chutes for Feeding and Transfer

    • 8.1 Chute Design Objectives

The efficient operation of belt conveyors depends on many fac- tors, not the least of which is the effective loading or feeding of bulk solids onto the belts at the feed end as illustrated in Fig. 29. Not only is the chute required to direct the bulk solid onto the belt without spillage, but it must also accelerate the flow so

allow th e feeder to be starte d. This precaution is useful for feeder s in
Fig. 29: Feed ing onto a belt conveyor Fig. 33: Tran sf er chute that at

Fig. 29: Feeding onto a belt conveyor

Fig. 29: Feed ing onto a belt conveyor Fig. 33: Tran sf er chute that at

Fig. 33: Transfer chute

that at the point of discharge onto the belt, the horizontal component, v ey , of the discharge velocity matches, as close as possible, the belt speed. For accelerated flow, it has been estab- lished that a lumped parameter model