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Powder Technology 104 Ž1999.


Critical rotation speed for ball-milling

Hiroshi Watanabe
DiÕision of Materials, Kagawa Prefectural Industrial Technology Center, 587-1 Goto, Takamatsu, Kagawa 761-8031, Japan

Received 31 August 1998; received in revised form 28 January 1999; accepted 28 January 1999


Critical rotation speed of dry ball-mill was studied by experiments and by numerical simulation using Discrete Element Method
ŽDEM.. The results carried out by both methods showed good agreement. It has been commonly accepted that the critical rotation speed
is a function of a ball radius and a jar diameter. The results of the present work, however, show that the critical rotation speed
significantly depends on ball-containing fraction in jars, and approaches a value asymptotically as the ball-containing fraction approaches
to one. This asymptotic value is equal to the traditional critical rotation speed. The effect of individual rotation of the ball of the jar is
significantly small to centrifugal motion. q 1999 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Ball-milling; Critical rotation speed; Centrifugal motion

1. Introduction where D is the inner diameter of a jar and r is the radius

of balls. All throughout, they used the critical rotation
Behavior of balls in ball-mills is very complicated, and speed as the constant value for given conditions of ball-mill
has been attracted by many researchers who have studied w5x.
to understand the phenomena of ball-millings. Recently, After this work, the critical rotation speed has never
various phenomena in ball-mills, e.g., radial and axial been re-examined. At the critical rotation speed the balls
particle size segregation w1x, avalanche mixing w2,3x, and are placed stationarily with respect to the inner wall of the
angle of repose of avalanche and shape of surface flow w4x, jar, and cannot contribute grinding. However, when the
have been found. In 1957, Rose and Sullivan w5x summa- mechanics of the ball-mill are examined in detail, we must
rized various phenomena of ball-millings. In particular, evaluate those commonly accepted phenomena also. The
they mentioned that as rotation speed increases, distinct critical rotation speed was re-examined at first in our
avalanche, continuous avalanche, cascading motion, previous paper, we showed experimentally that the critical
cataracting motion and centrifugal motion appear sequen- rotation speed depends on ball-containing fraction, where
tially. In this final stage, the outermost layer balls are ball-containing fraction b is defined by ratio of the vol-
placed stationarily with respect to the inner wall of the jar. ume V, as seen in Fig. 1, to the volume of the jar. In this
Rajchenbach w6x also reported a similar observation, and paper, we found that the relation between critical rotation
found the hysteresis in the transition from discrete speed and ball-containing fraction is non-linear. And the
avalanches to continuous regime at low speed. relation has asymptote in the direction of ball-containing
Rose and Sullivan showed critical rotation speed Nc , to fraction increase, that is, critical rotation speed approaches
reach the final stage, i.e., centrifugal motion: to the value determined by Eq. Ž1. when ball-containing
fraction approaches to one w7x.
1 2g
Nc s
( Dy2r
Ž 1. In this study, by numerically examining the experiment
using Discrete Element Method ŽDEM., we will compre-
hend the behavior of ball-milling more microscopically,
i.e., at ball basis. And we will study the reason why such
Fax: q81-87-881-0425. an asymptote appears in the relation between critical rota-
E-mail address: watanabe@itc.pref.kagawa.jpŽH. Wantabe. tion speed and ball-containing fraction.

0032-5910r99r$ - see front matter q 1999 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 0 3 2 - 5 9 1 0 Ž 9 9 . 0 0 0 3 1 - 5
96 H. Watanaber Powder Technology 104 (1999) 95–99

2. Experiment

To examine the dependence of critical rotation speed on

ball-containing fraction, we measured critical speeds at
various ball-containing fractions from 0.3 to 0.95 stepped
by 0.05. Since at lower fraction than 0.3 we could not
observe the centrifugal motion, we chose this fraction
A jar of ball-mill consists of a cylinder and two lids.
The cylinder is made from alumina, with a dimension of Fig. 2. Schematic explanation of collision.
123.6 mm height, 75.6 mm inner diameter and volume of
560 cm3. The lids are made from acrylic resin. Balls of
ball-mill are made from zirconia ŽYTZ-ball., with a diame- (
heights h f . Using the equation e n s h frh i , we obtained
ter of 5 mm. Rotation speed of the jar was measured by the restitution coefficient.
non-contact LASER tachometer ŽDigital Hand Tachometer
HT-441, Ono Sokki.. Ball-mill was used dry. Jar was
rotated by microcomputer-controlled motor. An inverter 3. Discrete element method of ball-mill
ŽFREQROL-U100, Mitsubishi. was used to control the
motor. Measurement of the critical rotation speed was We modeled ball-mill as a quasi-two-dimensional ob-
carried out when the balls reached centrifugal motion. In ject for simplicity, although real ball-mill is a 3-dimen-
more detail, since the inverter controlled the motor, I could sional object. Here, quasi-two-dimension means that balls
control the rotation speed of the jar. When the outermost and jar were modeled as discs in our program except
layer was formed, the rotation speed of the jar was con- masses of the balls, which are calculated by taking the ball
strained to hold at some value during measurement of the as a 3-dimensional object. We restricted ourselves to the
rotation speed. case of dry, non-cohesive, mono-disperse discs. In this
The coefficients of dynamic wall-ball and inter-ball case, there are three degrees of freedom, i.e., two transla-
frictions were measured by the friction resistance test with tional and one rotational w8x. Moreover, we ignored rota-
ball indentor using Surface Property Tester ŽType: HEI- tional degree of freedom for simplicity and for saving the
DON-14D, Sintoukagaku.. Both coefficients of dynamic computer resources. A general contact is sketched in Fig.
frictions were 0.15. 2, where i s 1,2 are ball number, r is radius of ball, ™ ri is
The normal restitution coefficient e n was 0.89. This center of mass of ball i, ™
n is unit vector joining the centers
was measured as follows; from various initial heights h i , of balls from i to j,
we dropped a zirconia ball to an alumina plate in front of a

scale set vertically. The motion of the rebounded ball was ™
r j y™
captured by High Speed Video ŽModel: HSV-400, nac.. ns ™
Ž 2.
r j y™
From these pictures, we measured the maximum rebound

s is unit vector which is related to ™
n by
™ 0 1 ™
ss ž y1 0/n Ž 3.
These two unit vectors are used to decompose forces,
velocities and so on into normal and shear components. ™ Õi
is velocity of ball i. The deformation of balls is parameter-
ized by the virtual overlap j ,
j s max 0,2 r y ™
ž r j y™
ri / Ž 4.
We describe the normal force Fn acting on balls as linear-
spring-dashpot model,
Fn s yk n j y gn j˙ Ž 5.
where k n is related to stiffness of spring, gn is a damping
constant, dot above j is time derivative w9x. By this model,
we can write the coefficient of normal restitution e n as
Fig. 1. Schematic explanation of ball-containing fraction. The fraction is ygn
the volume Žhatched part. truncated by the highest tangential horizontal
plane to the balls to the volume of the jar.
e n s exp ž 2 m eff
tn / Ž 6.
H. Watanaber Powder Technology 104 (1999) 95–99 97

Table 1 least-squares fitting using 3rd order polynomial. The dashed

Parameters used in numerical experiment line joins experimental data. From these curves, experi-
Stiffness of spring between balls ŽNrm. 26 375 mental and numerical results are in good agreement with
Stiffness of spring between jar and pot ŽNrm. 52 750
each other. Due to this fact, our choices of parameters are
Damping constant between balls Žkgrs. 0.170
Damping constant between jar and ball Žkgrs. 0.340 justified.
Coefficient of dynamic friction 0.15 The critical rotation speed of the jar significantly de-
Density of zirconia ball Žkgrm3 . 6.08=10 3 pends on the ball-containing fraction, as seen in Fig. 3, and
Duration of collision tn Žs. 2.73=10y4 is not determined by Eq. Ž1. for given radii of the jar and
Normal restitution coefficient e n 0.89
the ball only. The critical rotation speed is close to the
Coefficient of dynamics and normal restitution coefficient are mea- value determined by Eq. Ž1., as the ball-containing fraction
sured values. Density of zirconia is in literature. The others are adjusted approaches to one, since concentric circles approximately
values to save the computer resources. represent the trajectories of balls as the ball-containing
fraction approaches to one. Then, the conventional Eq. Ž1.
is inadequate to determine the critical rotation speed of the
kn gn In our numerical experiment of which the parameters
tn s p
ž ž //
m eff
2 m eff
Ž 7. are in Table 1, once we select normal stiffness of spring of
ball, other parameters are fixed by Eqs. Ž6. and Ž7.. In
denotes the duration of the collision and m eff is effective short, this selection significantly affects the numerical
mass, i.e., m eff s  m i m jrŽ m i q m j ., where m i ,m j are results. Unfortunately, this parameter is not physical value.
masses of ball i, j respectively. Since in our numerical Then, we temporarily have taken this as a product of
experiment we adopt mono-disperse balls, these masses are radius of ball and Young’s modulus. But this choice
equal. We take the simplest shear force following the needed small duration of collision. Our computer resources
Coulomb criterion of dynamic friction, then shear force Fs cannot be fit for this demand. So, we must adjust this
is parameter to meet our computer resources. By this consid-
Fs s m P < Fn < P sign Ž Õs . Ž 8. eration, this parameter resulted in 1r10,000 times small as
the product. This phenomenon is also seen in preprint by
where m is the coefficient of dynamic friction, and Õs s Ž™
Õj Dury and Ristow w11x and Kano et al. w12x. On the other
y™Õi .™
s. The total force that acts on a ball is hand, we selected linear-spring-dashpot model. From the-
™ ory of elasticity, contact is expressed by Hertz contact w13x.
F s Fn ™
n q Fs ™
s. Ž 9. In spite of our simple model, this can represent the experi-
The collision between the jar and ball is treated simi- mental results acceptably. It is understood as following
larly as that of balls, where mass and radius of the jar are consideration. According to Dury and Ristow in a binary
set to be infinite. To solve the system of equations of mixture consisting of radius-different balls the diffusion
motion of balls, we use the forth-value Gear predictor–cor- coefficient Dd of the axial segregation is a function of the
rector method w9x. To avoid numerical instability, we use
constant time step D t s t nr10.
Table 1 shows the parameters, that we used. In these
parameters, the coefficient of dynamic friction is measure-
ment value and the density of zirconia is in literature w10x,
the others are adjusted values to save the computer re-
The critical rotation speed is determined by following
two conditions: the total dynamic energy of balls is stable
and final configuration of the balls is stationary with
respect to the inner wall of the jar. We take the required
value that is minimum rotation speed of the jar fulfilling
the above conditions.

4. Results and discussion

The relation between the critical rotation speed of the

jar and the ball-containing fraction is depicted in Fig. 3. In
this figure, open circle shows experimental value and open Fig. 3. Relation between critical rotation speed and ball-containing frac-
triangle shows numerical value. Solid curve is obtained by tion.
98 H. Watanaber Powder Technology 104 (1999) 95–99

smaller ball concentration C as Dd Ž C . A 6C w14x. In our implies that although the configuration of the balls in the
mono-disperse case the concentration C is zero, the diffu- centrifugal resume is simpler than other phenomena of the
sion coefficient Dd is zero. Then, we can think axial ball milling, there is a complexity in the centrifugal mo-
motion insignificantly contributes to the centrifugal mo- tion.
tion. So, we can implement the numerical simulation in the
two-dimensional method. As for ignoring individual rota-
tion of the balls, we could not observe a significant 5. Conclusion
difference between the method that takes into account the
individual rotation of the balls and the method that does In spite of a given inner diameter of jars and ball radius,
not take into account the individual rotation of the balls. In the critical rotation speed of the jar cannot be fixed, and
spite of the insignificant difference, the code is more significantly depends on the ball-containing fraction. The
complicated and a powerful computer resource is needed, model consisting of the simplest collision model, i.e., the
if the influence of individual rotation of the balls is taken it linear-spring-dashpot model and the Coulomb criterion for
into consideration. Then, individual rotation has little con- dynamic friction, numerically represents the experimental
tribution to the centrifugal motion. results well. The value determined by the conventional
Worth considering, Dury and Ristow reported the rela- equation for critical rotation speed is the asymptotic value
tion between the critical rotation speed and the ball-con- as the ball-containing fraction approaches one. The effect
taining fraction. They analytically derived the determinant of individual rotation of the balls is significantly small to
equation in a different definition of the centrifugal motion. centrifugal motion.
Their criterion for determining centrifugal motion reached
is that all balls in the jar form rings. For their critical
rotation speed Nc , the surface area of the ring must be 6. List of symbols
equal to the initial ball-containing fraction at rest that reads
C smaller ball concentration
p Ž R 2 y R 12 . s ap R 2 Ž 10 . D diameter of inner wall of jar
where R 1 stands for the ring’s inner distance from the Dd diffusion coefficient
center of the jar and a denotes the volume filling fraction. en normal restitution coefficient

Our ball-containing fraction and his volume-filling fraction F total force vector acting on ball
are the same. Consider the equilibrium of forces between Fn normal force acting ball
the gravitational force and the centrifugal force acting on a Fs shear force acting on ball
single ball of mass m vertically above the jar center. The g gravitational acceleration
equilibrium condition reads hf maximum height of rebounded ball
hi initial height of ball
mg s mR1 Ž 2p Nc . . Ž 11 . i suffix of ball number
j suffix of ball number
Let us solve Nc ,
kn stiffness of spring
1 g 1 g mi mass of ball i
Nc s
2p ( R1
2p ( R'1 y a
Ž 12 . mj
m eff
mass of ball j
effective mass
is derived w14x. Walton and Braun w15x involved the angle Nc critical rotation speed

of repose of material Qc . For more precise expression for n unit vector joining the centers of ball from i to j
critical rotation speed, R radius of the jar
1 g R1 ring’s inner distance from the center of the jar to
Nc s
2p ( R sin Qc'1 y a
Ž 13 .

radius of ball
is given. The difference of definitions on the critical ri center of mass of ball i

rotation speed is as follows: in our definition, when the s unit vector perpendicular to ™n
outermost layer of the ball forms a ring, critical rotation tn duration of collision
speed is reached. On the other hand, in his definition, V volume as seen in Fig. 1

when all balls form rings, that speed is reached. Our Õi velocity of ball i
approach to the critical rotation speed is from the lower Õs relative tangential velocity
speed, although his approach is from the upper speed. Greek letters
Since there is a difference of definitions, the relations a volume-containing fraction
between the critical rotation speed and the ball-containing b ball-containing fraction
fraction is not unique. The reason why such a phenomenon ln damping constant
occurs is unclear at present. This phenomenon, I think, Dt constant time step in numerical experiment
H. Watanaber Powder Technology 104 (1999) 95–99 99

m coefficient of dynamic fraction w3x S.N. Dorogovtsev, Europhys. Lett. 41 Ž1998. 25.
w4x G. Baumann, I.M. Janosi, D.E. Wolf, Phys. Rev. E 51 Ž1995. 1879.
p the circular constant
w5x H.E. Rose, R.M.E. Sullivan, A Treatise on the Internal Mechanics of
Qc the angle of response of material Ball, Tube and Rod Mills, Constable, London, 1957, pp. 35–68.
j virtual overlap in Eq. Ž4. w6x J. Rajchenbach, Phys. Rev. Lett. 65 Ž1990. 2221.
w7x H. Watanabe, Y. Kondo, Advanced Technology of Materials and
Material Processing Journal ŽATM. 1 Ž1. Ž1998. 1–7.
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couragement, Dr. Y. Kondo ŽDivision of Material, Kagawa New York, 1996, p. 534.
w11x C.M. Dury, G.H. Ristow, cond-matr9805381.
Prefecture Industry Technology Center. for useful sugges- w12x J. Kano, N. Chujo, F. Sato, Advanced Powder Technol. 8 Ž1. Ž1997.
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moto ŽAnan College of Technology. for preparing hardly w13x S.P. Timoshenko, J.N. Goodier, Theory of Elasticity, McGraw-Hill,
available papers. Singapore, 1984, pp. 409–421.
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