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Handbook of Conveying and Handling of Particulate Solids

A. Levy

H. Kalman

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel

ISSN  0167-3785

Volume 10 • Number suppl (C) • 2001

Table of Contents

Cover image

Title page

Handbook of Powder Technology

Front Matter

Copyright page


Solids flowability measurement and interpretation in industry

Flow properties of bulk solids -which properties for which application

Investigation on the effect of filling procedures on testing of flow properties by means of a uniaxial tester

Characterization of powder flow behavior with the Flexible Wall Biaxial Tester

From discrete element simulations towards a continuum description of particulate solids

Vibrational flow of cohesive powders

Influence of the stress history on the time dependent behaviour of bulk solids

Evaluation of the mechanical properties of powder for storage

Particle adhesion and powder flow behaviour

Determination of the influence of surface coating and particle size on flow properties of organic pigment powders

The conversion of the analytical simple shear model for the Jenike failure locus into principal stress space and implication of the model for hopper design

Modelling flooding in a small vessel compared with experiments and numerical calculation

Analysis and application of powder compaction diagrams

Axial porosity distribution in a packed bed of deformable particles: A numerical study based on DEM

Flow properties of bulk solids and their use in solving industrial problems

Silo failures: case histories and lessons learned

The relationship between flow behaviour in a plane flow hopper and the jenike design method

Full scale silo tests and numerical simulations of the „cone in cone" concept for mass flow

Stress condition of sliding bulk solids on silo walls

Studies on thermal actions and forces in cylindrical storage silo bins

Silo discharge: Dynamic effects of granular flow

Recent developments in feeder design and performance

Recent developments in belt conveying - bulk solid and conveyor belt interactions

Putting the pedal to the metal

Mesoscopic nature of granular flows

Using a kinetic theory approach incorporating interaction with the air to model granular flow down a chute

Numerical and experimental studies for the impact of projectiles on granular materials

Implementation of 3D frictional contact condition

Numerical simulation of 3D iron ore flow

Pneumatic conveying: transport solutions, pitfalls, and measurements

Dilute-phase pneumatic conveying problems and solutions

Latest development of the direct technique for measurement of the pneumatic conveying characteristics of bulk materials

Dense phase (plug) conveying – observations and projections

Operating limits of low-velocity pneumatic conveying

Granular jump in low velocity pneumatic conveying of solid particles in a horizontal pipeline

Two-layer model for non-suspension gas-solids flow of fine powders in pipes

Pressure drop prediction of low-velocity slug-flow materials in the unstable zone

Transportation boundaries for horizontal slug-flow pneumatic conveying

The use of high pressure blow tanks for the pneumatic conveying of pelletised materials

Pneumatic conveying with Turbuflow®-advantages against conventional dense phase conveying

The influence of a bend on the flow characteristics in pneumatic conveying systems

A novel analytical model for the acceleration of particles following bends in pneumatic conveying systems

The design of pipeline systems for transporting ice into deep mines

Experimental studies on pneumatic conveying of wet snow

Deposition velocities for slurry flows

Particle motion in sheared non-Newtonian media

Distribution and friction of particles in pipeline flow of sand-water mixtures

Laminar and turbulent flow of dense kaolin and ash hydromixtures 

Rheological characterization of industrial kaolin slurries

Net positive suction head requirement for centrifugal slurry pumps

Slurry and tip clearance effects on the performance of an open impeller centrifugal pump

Pneumatic capsule pipelines in Japan and future developments

Drag reduction in hydraulic capsule pipeline

A contribution to hydrotransport of capsules in bend and inclined pipeline sections 

Recent developments in the drying technologies for the production of particulate materials

DEM simulation of industrial issues in fluidized bed reactors

Rheologic and flow properties of fluidised bulk solids

Drying kinetics simulation by means of artificial neural networks

Production of powder-like material from suspension by drying on inert particles

Segregation of powders - mechanisms, processes and counteraction

Countering segregation

An investigation of degradation and segregation in typical coal handling processes

A system for the reduction of air current segregation in silos

Segregation-free particle mixing

Bulk-solids mixing: overview

A double stochastic model of the mixing of solid particles

Investigation of flow regimes in continuous mixer tubes

Description of grinding in a ball mill using statistical moments

A Markov chain model to describe the Residence Time Distribution in a stirred bead mill

Simulation of interaction of opposed gas-particle jets

Simulation of gas-particle flows in jet-vortex mills

Contribution to the theory of roll press design

Drum granulation conditions for raw material with different particle size distributions

Fugitive and non-fugitive dust generation and control in eonveying of powders: reality, technology and human attitude

Evaluation of air pollution level by means of artificial neural network - multilayer perceptron

Dust explosion hazard considerations for materials handling plants

A de-dusting device for removing fines from pellets and granules

Assessment of a multistage gravity separation in turbulent air flow

TriboMechanical classification: A new technology for size classification of bulk powders

Particle surface inspection with Fourier-wavelets transform

The crucial role of on-line measurement in bulk solids handling

Application of non-invasive techniques for imaging fluidized beds – A review

Electrical tomography techniques for multiphase flow applications

Sedimentation kinetics monitor

Effect of mass loading on gas-solids motion and particle segregation patterns

Measurement of the dynamic behavior of bulk solids using optical flow analysis

Handbook of Powder Technology

Advisory Editors J.C. WILLIAMS

School of Powder Technology, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England

and T. ALLEN

Senior Consultant, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., Inc., Newark, Delaware, U.S.A.

The Handbook presents, in convenient form, existing knowledge in all specialized areas of Powder Technology.

Information that can be used for the design of industrial processes involving the production, handling and processing of particulate materials so far did not exist in a form which it is readily accessible to design engineers. Scientists responsible for characterizing particulate materials, specifying the requirements of industrial processes, operating plants, or setting up quality-control tests all have similar problems in their fact-finding missions through the scattered and scanty literature. The aim of this handbook is to remedy this deficiency by providing a series of thematic volumes on various aspects of powder technology.

Vol. 1. Particle Size Enlargements (C.E. Capes)

Vol. 2. Fundamentals of Gas-Particle Flow (G. Rudinger)

Vol. 3. Solid-Gas Separation (L. Svarovsky)

Vol. 4. Dust Explosions (P. Field)

Vol. 5. Solid-Liquid Separation Processes and Technology (L. Svarovsky)

Vol. 6. The Packing of Particles (D.J. Cumberland and R.J. Crawford)

Vol. 7. Dispersing Powders in Liquids (R.D. Nelson)

Vol. 8. Gas Fluidization (M. Pell)

Vol. 9. Powder Technology and Pharmaceutical Processes (D. Chulia, M. Deleuil and Y. Pourcelot, Eds.) Vol. 10. Handbook of Conveying and Handling of Particulate Solids (A. Levy and H. Kalman)

Front Matter


Edited by


Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel


Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel

Amsterdam – London – New York – Oxford – Paris – Shannon – Tokyo

Copyright page


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© 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

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First edition 2001

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ISBN: 0 444 50235 1

ISSN: 0167 3785

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The Conveying and Handling of Particulate Solids play major roles in many industries, including chemical, pharmaceutical, food, mining, and coal power plants. As an example, about 70% of DuPont’s products are in the form of a powder, or involve powders during the manufacturing process. However, newly designed plants or production lines produce only about 40±40% of the planned production rate. This points up clearly the lack of appropriate scientific knowledge and engineering design skills. Following one’s becoming aware of the problem, it should be attacked on three fronts — research, education and training.

Many new products cannot be manufactured or marketed because of serious difficulties concerning conveying and handling. That is because in most cases the mutual effect between handling- and conveying units is neglected during the design of a new production line. Unlike other states of materials, it is not sufficient just to know the state of a bulk material in order to determine its properties and behaviour. The history of a bulk material can dramatically affect its properties and behaviour. We should also keep in mind the fact that an optimal manufacturing line is not necessarily made by combining individually optimized devices. Therefore, concurrent engineering should be practised in the chemical and related industries.

In order to address both of the problems presented above, an international conference was initiated six years ago, that relates to most processes, units, equipment and models involving the conveying and handling of particulate solids. In the conference, researchers, engineers and industrialists working on bulk solids systems have the opportunity for open dialogue to exchange ideas and discuss new developments. The present Handbook summarizes the main developments presented at the last Conference, that took place at the Dead-Sea, Israel in 2000. This Handbook therefore contains research results from all round the world, and the best scientists present the state-of-the-art on a variety of topics, through invited review papers. Some review papers presented at the previous Conference were added. All the papers presented in this Handbook have been reviewed.

The aim of the handbook is to present a comprehensive coverage of the technology for conveying and handling particulate solids, in a format that will be useful to engineers, researchers and students from various disciplines. The book follows a pattern which we have found useful for tackling any problem found while handling or conveying particulate solids. Each chapter covers a different topic and contains both fundamentals and applications. Usually, each chapter, or a topic within a chapter, starts with one of the review papers. Chapter 1 covers the characterization of the particulate materials. Chapter 2 covers the behaviour of particulate materials during storage, and presents recent developments in storage- and feeders design and performance. Chapter 3 presents fundamental studies of particulate flow, while Chapters 4 and 5 present transport solutions, and the pitfalls of pneumatic, slurry, and capsule conveying. Chapters 6, 7 and 8 cover both the fundamentals and development of processes for particulate solids, starting from fluidisation and drying, segregation and mixing, and size-reduction and -enlargement. Chapter 9 presents environmental aspects and the classification of the particulate materials after they have been handled by one of the above-mentioned processes. Finally, Chapter 10 covers applications and developments of measurement techniques that are the heart of the analysis of any conveying or handling system.

We hope that users will find the handbook both useful and stimulating, and will use the results of the work presented here for further development and investigations.

The Editors

Solids flowability measurement and interpretation in industry

T.A. Bell

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc., Experimental Station, P.O. Box 80304, Wilmington, DE 19880-0304 USA.

The practical issue of industrial measurement and description of powder flowability are discussed from the author’s perspective. Common uses of conventional shear testing devices are described, as are some alternative methods.


The science of soil mechanics was integrated with the related field of powder mechanics and reduced to industrial practice by Jenike [1] in 1964. Since then, it has been possible for industry to reliably measure the flowability of powders and relate the measurements, in engineering units, to the design requirements for silo flow. However, Jenike’s publication was neither the first effort to quantify flowability nor the last. New testing methods continue to be introduced, with varying degrees of success. In many cases these alternative measurement methods are the result of an industrial necessity and reflect some shortcoming of the Jenike method. In other cases, they exist because the Jenike method is not known to the people involved or is not relevant to their problem. Business value can be derived from many different types of measurements.


2.1 Applications

A surprising amount of time can be spent debating the meaning of flowability, and what does it really mean if one powder has better flowability than others. From a practical standpoint, the definition of acceptable flowability is in the eyes of the beholder. A person accustomed to handling pigments would be delighted if his materials had the handling properties of cement, while a cement user would wish for the properties of dry sand. Industries that deal with powders in very small quantities can employ handling techniques of brute force or human intervention that are not practical in larger scale installations. In many cases, the chemists developing a new process or powder are completely unaware of the difficulties in handling powders on an industrial scale, and in some cases the problems are completely different between the laboratory and the plant. Finally, there are some materials, such as extremely free flowing granules that may require unconventional descriptive techniques.

2.2 Clarity and simplicity

Most producers and users of bulk materials do not have the time or interest to study solids flow and powder mechanics. Many are completely unfamiliar with the field since it is rarely taught as part of an engineering or science curriculum. A mistake sometimes made by specialists in the field is the presentation of test results in a form that cannot be readily by the users. Failure of the specialist to identify and address the key business issues in a way that is understandable to the intended recipients will severely limit the breadth of application of this technology.

Silo design studies should show the engineering design outcome first, and the underlying technical data second. Very few people are interested in yield loci from shear tests, and even the resulting flow functions often require interpretation in the context of the silo problem. Flowability measurements for quality control and product development must often be reduced to one or two numbers as discussed later in this paper. Even with modern statistical techniques, it is extremely difficult to compare a series of graphs describing the properties of various bulk material samples. The question then becomes which one or two numbers from large data sets to use. It could be argued that the difference between a skilled technician and skilled consultant is the ability of the latter to correctly select which data to work with for a specific quality control or product development purpose. While there is not a simple answer to this question, any approach must start with a consideration of the compaction pressures that the bulk material is exposed to. For free-flowing materials in small bins, the pressures might be nearly zero. For larger silos, cohesive materials, or those with high wall friction (see section 3.6, below), calculation of appropriate pressures will be required.

When data is presented in the form of a few numbers, there is inevitably a risk that those requesting the data will attempt to use it for purposes for which it was not intended. For example, a measure of the ratholing tendency of a material in silos may not accurately reflect the uniformity of its delivery in packaging machines. Providing the users with mountains of data is not a solution, since the same person that will use a simple number inappropriately will probably also extract the wrong information from a comprehensive collection of data points. This situation can best be managed by maintaining a dialog with the users on their needs and the application of the results.


3.1 Free flowing materials - timed funnels

It can be difficult or impossible to measure cohesive strength for highly free flowing granules. For such materials, the rate of flow is often more important than whether they will flow at all. In these cases, the time necessary for a pre-determined volume or mass to flow through a funnel can be the most useful flowability measure. This method is widely used in the fabrication of metal parts from metal powder [2, 3]. The factors influencing the flow time measurements are numerous and include the particle size distribution, the friction between the particles and against the wall, the particle density, and gas permeability. Many specialists in powder mechanics object to the use of such measurements because of the unknown interactions amongst the factors and the absence of any consideration of solids pressure due to the self-weight of bulk material. However, in our experience this measurement can be extremely reproducible and an excellent indicator of the flow behavior in situations that resemble the test, i.e., rapid flow from small bins.

3.2 Angle of repose measurements

The angle of repose formed by a heap of a bulk material is the best-known method of describing flowability. Unfortunately, it is quite possibly the worst measure to use. Angles of repose can be significantly influenced by the test conditions, especially the height that the material falls to form the heap. There can be pronounced differences in angles of repose for materials that have similar real-life handling properties. Cohesive materials may form multiple angles of repose in a single test, and reproducibility may be poor. The measured angle cannot be directly related to any silo design parameter except the shape of the top of a stockpile heap.

3.3 Hausner ratio of tapped to loose bulk density

The ratio of the tapped to the loose bulk density has been shown to relate in many cases to the gain in cohesive strength that follows the compaction of a powder or granular material. Materials with relatively little gain in bulk density (Hausner ratios below about 1.25) are considered to be non-cohesive, while increasing values (ratios up to about 2.0) indicate increasing levels of cohesiveness. However, we have observed that the correlation between the ratio and more sophisticated measurements is rather poor, and it is unlikely to provide precise differentiation between generally similar materials. In addition, the test is actually measuring a form of compressibility, which does not always relate to cohesive strength.

A serious limitation of the Hausner ratio is the elimination of any consideration of bulk density in the final calculation. As discussed below, two materials with similar Hausner ratios but different densities are likely to behave much differently in practice. Finally, it has been shown that tapped bulk density measurements are extremely sensitive to the apparatus being used and the number of taps. Standardization of these factors is necessary to ensure consistent and comparable results.

3.4 Properties based on shear testing

In many cases, the most important bulk handling behavior is whether or not the bulk material will flow reliably by gravity throughout a process. This behavior relates to the material’s arching (doming) and ratholing (piping) propensity, as described by the silo outlet necessary for reliable flow. Jenike [1] provides a method of calculating these values that is of the general form:


In this equation, fc is the unconfined yield strength (also known as σc), a measure of cohesive strength in response to compaction pressure. The bulk density is measured at the same compaction pressure as is associated with the fc measurement. The appropriate value of compaction pressure depends on the situation. As a first approximation, the factors H (for arching) or G (for ratholing) can be considered to be constants, so the flowability can be simply described as cohesive strength divided by bulk density. Put in other words, flowability is the ratio of the cohesive forces holding the particles together vs. the gravity forces trying to pull them apart.

Since fc and bulk density can both vary with compaction pressure, it is important to make the calculation of Eq. (1) at the appropriate pressure. This relates largely to the type of flow pattern in the silo (mass flow or funnel flow) which in turn depends on the friction of the solids against the walls of the silo. Consequently, a wall friction measurement is usually necessary to help fix the range of pressures. Since wall friction can also vary with pressure, the situation can become quite complex. However, many situations can be simplified as discussed below in section 3.6.

3.5 Flow functions

Flowability is often described on the basis of the flow function (Figure 1) [1] derived from shear testing. The flow function is a graph relating a major principal stress (σ1) to the unconfined yield strength (fc) that it produces in a powder specimen. This graph basically describes cohesive strength as a function of compaction pressure. Figure 1 shows possible flow functions for three different materials. It is easy to comprehend and relate to one’s own experience with moist sand or snow, etc. Jenike [1] and others have often used the slope of the flow function as a flowability descriptor. This can obtained by simply dividing the unconfined yield strength at a particular point by the corresponding value of major principal stress. This method, while convenient, has several serious drawbacks.

Fig. 1 Typical flow functions.

First, a comparison of flow function slopes for different bulk material samples based on single points presumes that the flow function graphs are linear, and that they pass through the origin. Neither assumption is necessarily true (see Figure 1). Second, most shear testing methods (except Johanson’s) used in industry do not directly apply a pressure of σ1 to the sample. A different consolidation pressure is used and the final value of σ1 is later calculated as part of the interpretation of the yield locus generated in the test series. This means that the person conducting the test cannot pre-select which value of σ1 he will test at. Two different samples, tested at the same consolidation pressure, may produce different values of σ1, and hence relate to different points along the flow function. Exact comparison of multiple samples will require that at least two flow function points for each sample be obtained so that the comparative values of fc at a particular value of σ1 can be determined by interpolation.

The third drawback of comparisons based on flow functions alone is the fact that such measurements completely disregard bulk density. Examination of Eq. 1 shows that the bulk density has equal importance to fc. We have observed cases where the bulk density of a common material, such as hydrated lime, can vary by up to 50% between suppliers, while the cohesive strength (fc) varied by 30%. Similarly, in one of our businesses, two products had identical flow functions but their bulk densities varied by 30%. The flowability in the plant varied accordingly, and the business people (who had only compared the flow functions) did not understand why.

3.6 Wall friction measurements

Wall friction measurements are most commonly made with a Jenike shear cell. The force necessary to push (shear) a sample of bulk material, trapped in a ring, across a wall sample coupon is measured as a function of the force applied to the top of the sample (Figure 2). The resulting data is in the form of a graph of shear force versus normal force, known as a wall yield locus (WYL). For any given point on the graph, the ratio of shear force to normal force is the coefficient of friction. The arctangent of the same ratio is the wall friction angle. For some materials the WYL is a straight line that passes through the origin. This is the simplest case, and wall friction can be described by a single number. In other cases the WYL has a curvature that causes the wall friction angle to vary inversely with normal force.

Fig. 2 Wall friction measurement with Jenike Shear Cell. (illustration adapted from Ref. 3)

The wall friction angle is the primary factor used in determining if a particular silo will empty in mass flow or funnel flow. Larger values of the wall friction angle correspond to steeper angles required for the converging hopper at the base of the silo in order to achieve mass flow. The procedure is described by Jenike [1]. If the wall friction angle exceeds a certain value, mass flow will not occur. The WYL must be closely examined for the design of new silos or the detailed evaluation of the behavior of a bulk material in existing silos. If the wall friction angle exceeds the mass flow limit for a silo installation, the flow pattern in the silo will be funnel flow and consequently ratholing must be considered. This means that flow function data in the appropriate silo pressure range is necessary to determine if ratholing can occur. This can be a different set of testing conditions than that required if only a no-arching determination is required for a mass flow silo. For quality control or product development purposes where silo design is not an issue, it is often sufficient to describe the WYL by fitting a straight line, passing through the origin, to the data set. While this method can produce errors (especially at low values of normal force) it is adequate as a descriptive tool and greatly simplifies comparisons.


4.1 The Jenike Shear Tester

The Jenike shear tester (Figure 3) was developed as part of the research activities described by Jenike [1]. It is derived from the shear testers used in soil mechanics, which are typically square in cross section instead of the circular design used in the Jenike tester. Soil mechanics tests are usually conducted at compaction (normal) stress levels that greatly exceed those of interest in powder mechanics for silo design and gravity flow. At these high normal stress levels, it is relatively easy to obtain steady state flow in which the bulk density and shear stress remain constant during shear. This steady state condition is a vital prerequisite for valid test results. It can also be reached at lower stress levels, but a relatively long shear stroke is required. With translational shear testers (i.e., those that slide one ring or square across another) the cross sectional area of the shear zone varies unavoidably during the shear stroke. The validity of the test becomes questionable if the stroke is too long.

Fig. 3 Jenike Shear Tester. (illustration adapted from Ref. 3)

For this reason Jenike devised the round test cell, which permits preparation of the sample by twisting. A pre-consolidation normal load is applied to the cover, and the cover is twisted back and forth a number of times. This preparation makes the stress distribution throughout the cell more uniform and reduces the shear stroke necessary to obtain steady state flow. After the pre-shear process is completed, a specified pre-shear normal load is applied to the cover and shear movement is started. Once steady state flow (constant shear force) is achieved, the initial normal load is removed and a smaller normal load (known as the shear normal load) is applied. Shear travel resumes and the peak shear force corresponding to the shear normal load is noted.

The preparation process requires skill and is not always successful on the first attempt. Different values of the pre-consolidation load or the number of twists may be required to reach steady state flow. Even with proper preparation, it is only possible to obtain one shear point from a prepared shear cell. Since several shear points are typically employed to construct a yield locus, and several yield loci are necessary to construct a flow function, the cell preparation procedure must be repeated numerous times. It is not uncommon to repeat the cell preparation process 9 to 25 times per flow function. We typically allow 6 man-hours for 9 shear tests, so the time investment in this method can be significant.

While the cell preparation procedure is demanding for even conventional powders and granular materials, it can be nearly impossible to obtain steady state flow with elastic materials and particles with large aspect ratios, such as flakes and fibers. In these cases, the allowable stroke of the shear cell may be exceeded before a steady state condition is achieved.

Despite these difficulties, the Jenike cell has remained the best-known and definitive shear testing method for bulk solids. There are several likely reasons for this. First, the method was developed first! Second, the method has been validated in industrial use and comparison to more sophisticated testers. Third, the apparatus is relatively simple and not patented, ideal for university research and users with limited budgets.

4.2 Peschl Rotational Split Level Tester

Most of the difficulties with the Jenike tester are the result of its limited shear stroke. Testers that rotate to shear the sample (such as the Peschl) versus the Jenike cell’s translational motion can have a distinct advantage. Shear travel can essentially be unlimited, as long as there is no degradation of the particles in the shear zone. This unlimited stroke makes the elaborate Jenike cell preparation process unnecessary, and also makes it possible to obtain multiple data points from a single specimen. Thus an entire yield locus can be constructed from a single filling of the test cell. While it is also possible to make repetitive measurements from a Jenike cell sample, the cell has to be prepared each time. A second advantage of the rotational cell is that the placement location for the normal force does not move (translate) during the test. Loads are placed on the centerline of rotation. This makes it much easier to automatically place and remove loads from the test cell, and can lead to complete automation of the tester.

The Peschl tester (Figure 4) rotates the bottom half of a cylindrical specimen against the top half, which is stationary. The torque necessary to prevent the rotation of the top half is measured, and is converted to the shear stress acting across the shear zone. The interior of the top and bottom of the cell are roughened to prevent the powder from shearing along the top or bottom ends rather than at the shear plane. It should be noted that the amount of shear travel varies across the radius of the cell. A particle precisely in the center of the cell sees no shear travel distance - only rotation about the center line of the tester. Particles at the outside edge of the cell have the greatest amount of shear travel, with decreasing travel distances as the radius is reduced. Some researchers have voiced concern about this aspect of the tester, since the meaning of the individual shear points is somewhat confused. Shear stress values become averages produced by shearing different regions of the cell different distances. Although detailed studies have not been conducted, there is some evidence [4] that the Peschl tester produces slightly lower values of unconfined yield strength than the Jenike tester at comparable values of major principal stress.

Fig. 4 Peschl Rotational Split Level Tester.

The Peschl tester was the first (and for a long time, the only) automated shear cell available. The volume of the standard cell is relatively small, making it convenient for expensive bulk materials such as pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals. It is widely used for quality control and product development. Testing times are about 1/3 of that required with the Jenike cell.

4.3 Schulze Ring Shear Tester

The issue of non-uniform shear travel in rotational testers can be minimized if the test cell has an annular ring shape instead of a cylindrical one such as in the Peschl tester. While the inner radius of the ring still has a shorter shear travel than the outer one, the difference is relatively small, particularly if the difference between the two radii is small compared to their average. This concept was developed a number of years ago by Carr and Walker [5]. In our experience, the early models of the device, while very robust from a mechanical standpoint, were too massive for delicate measurements. It also was difficult to clean the cell, particularly the lower ring. This form of ring shear tester never achieved widespread use when compared to the Jenike cell.

A similar concept with a number of engineering improvements has recently been developed by Schulze (Figure 5). The mechanism is much more sensitive than that employed by earlier ring shear testers, and the cell can be removed for cleaning and also for time consolidation testing. It is commercially available. Excellent correlation has been observed between the Schulze tester and the Jenike shear cell, as well as with more sophisticated research instruments. An automated version is available for situations where high productivity is required. As with the Peschl tester, testing times are about 1/3 of that required for comparable Jenike tests.

Fig. 5 Schulze Ring Shear Tester.

4.4 Johanson Hang-Up Indicizer

All of the shear testers previously discussed are biaxial, which means there are forces applied or measured in two different planes (horizontal and vertical). The design of a testing machine can be simplified if all of the measurements and motions can be made in one plane, i.e. in a uniaxial tester.

Biaxial testers measure shear stresses related to normal stresses. However, the flow-function graph and its interpretation for silo design requires the calculation of principal stresses (fc and σ1) from the normal and shear stress data by the use of yield loci and Mohr’s circles (a mathematical tool). In concept, a perfect uniaxial tester can directly apply and measure principal stresses, making the construction of yield loci and use of Mohr circles unnecessary. This would expedite the completion of flow functions and reduce testing time.

The concept of a uniaxial tester is to compress the sample in some sort of confined fixture, then remove a portion (or all) of the fixture and measure the strength of the resulting compacted powder specimen. There have been a number of efforts through the years to achieve this objective [6]. While the description is simple, the execution is not. The confining fixture impedes the uniform compression of the sample due to wall friction, making the state of stress in the sample inconsistent and sometimes unknown. Removal of the confining fixture without damaging the compacted specimen can be difficult. Painstaking work or very sophisticated apparatus is necessary to generate results comparable to Jenike tests either in accuracy or reproducibility. The best attempt so far is a tester developed by Postec Research in Norway [7]. However, this tester is not yet commercialized.

An alternative approach is the Johanson Hang-Up Indicizer (Figure 6), a form of uniaxial tester in which a coaxial upper piston assembly is used to compress the sample, with the compressive force only being measured on the inner piston. The concept is that wall friction effects are taken up by the outer piston and can be ignored. The central portion of the bottom of the fixture is then removed, and a tapered plug of the bulk solid is pushed out by the upper inner piston. Several assumptions are employed to convert the force necessary to push out the plug to an estimate of unconfined yield strength. Since the mass and volume of the sample during the test is known, the tester can also calculate the bulk density during the consolidation stage. By combining the bulk density and unconfined yield strength data together with some further assumptions in a form of Eq. 1, it is possible to make an estimate of the arching and ratholing dimensions for material tested.

Fig. 6 Johanson Hang-Up Indicizer® cell (dimensions in mm).

The Hang-Up Indicizer was found to be highly reproducible in our tests [4], but the reported values of unconfined yield strength tend to lie below those obtained with biaxial testers. One reason is probably that the test specimen is fully confined during the consolidation step, and it may not reach the state of steady state flow in which the bulk density and shear stress remain constant as with the biaxial testers. Despite the deviation from Jenike-type results, we have found it to be a fast and convenient tool for quality control and product development purposes. One notable feature of the Indicizer is its ability to hunt for an appropriate value of consolidation stress in response to the bulk material’s changing bulk density during consolidation. This makes it possible to make relevant comparisons of ratholing propensities between samples, based on single tests. The concept is discussed further in [4].


In my experience, certain types of difficulties occur frequently in industrial measurement of flowability. Most of the problems involve obtaining samples representative of the process in question. Non-representative bulk material samples can be generated by segregation within the process or by differences between pilot plant and full-scale plant processes. Lost identity or unknown post-sampling environmental exposure history is a frequent problem, even for samples that were properly taken initially. Some materials may experience irreversible chemical changes that make it impossible to duplicate process behaviors in the laboratory. A detailed discussion with a chemist is always prudent before embarking on a test program. The influence of varying moisture content or temperature will probably be non-linear, and threshold values may exist.

Obtaining representative samples of the wall surface of process equipment (silos, hoppers, etc.) is a surprisingly difficult problem. Testing conducted prior to the detailed design of silos utilizes test coupons selected from the test lab’s existing library. The surface of these library samples may differ slightly from the eventual fabrication material, even if the specifications are identical. After plant commissioning, the surface of process equipment that is in service may develop coatings of corrosion, product, or by-products that are impossible to precisely reproduce in the laboratory.


Many users of flowability data, especially for quality control purposes, do not have the skills, patience, or need to interpret the graphical results of shear cell testing. These graphs show unconfined yield strength, bulk density, wall friction, and internal friction angles as functions of major principal stress. While this data is vital for a silo designer, most quality control users would prefer a single number that would tell them in quantitative units how one sample compares to another or to a reference value.

Shear testing results can be simplified, and reporting results in the form of Eq. (1) has merits. Since both the unconfined yield strength and the bulk density are influenced by compaction pressure, it is important to select a compaction pressure that is relevant to the situation at hand. More precise comparisons between samples may require a trial and error approach in shear testing to ensure that the test results are reported at consistent major principal stress values.

Even the most unusual and difficult flowability situations can be quantified in most cases. There is almost always a way to make a meaningful measurement of the relevant properties, but some experimentation and judgement may be required. Prudent risk taking is required whenever one deviates from the established Jenike test methods.


1. Jenike, A.W. Storage and Flow of Solids, Bulletin 123 of the Utah Engg. Experiment Station. Univ. of Utah; 1964. [(revised 1980)].

2. ASTM standard B212, Amer. Society for Testing and Materials, West Conshohocken, PA.

3. ASM Handbook, Vol. 7, Powder Metal Technologies and Applications. ASM International: Salt Lake City, UT, 1998:287–301.

4. Bell, T.A., Ennis, R.J., Grygo, R.J., Scholten, W.J.F., Schenkel, M.M. Practical Evaluation of the Johanson Hang-Up Indicizer. Bulk Solids Handling. 1994;Vol. 14(No. 1):117–125.

5. Carr, J.F., Walker, D.M. An Annular Shear Cell for Granular Materials. Power Technol.. 1967/1968;1:369–373.

6. Bell, T.A., Grygo, R.J., Duffy, S.P., Puri, V.M., Simplified Methods of Measuring Powder Cohesive Strength, Preprints of the 3rd European Symposium — Storage and Flow of Particulate Solids, PARTEC 95, European Fed. of Che. Engg. 1995:79–88.

7. Maltby, G.G. Enstad. Uniaxial Tester for Quality Control and Flow Property Characterization of Powders. Bulk Solids Handling. 1993;Vol. 13(No. 1):135–139.

Flow properties of bulk solids -which properties for which application

J. Schwedes      Institute of Mechanical Process Engineering, Technical University Braunschweig, Volkmaroder Str. 4/5, 38104 Braunschweig, Germany.

To design reliable devices for the handling of bulk solids and to characterize bulk solids the flow properties of these bulk solids have to be known. For their measurement a great number of shear and other testers are available. The paper gives a review of existing testers and demonstrates which tester should and can be used for which application.


Many ideas, methods and testers exist to measure the flowability of bulk solids. People running those tests seldom are interested in exclusively characterizing the flow properties of the bulk solid in question only. More often they want to use the measured data to design equipment, where bulk solids are stored, transported or otherwise handled, to decide which one out of a number of bulk solids has the best or the worst flowability, to fulfill the requirement of quality control, to model processes with the finite element method or to judge any other process in which the strength or flowability of bulk solids plays an important role. Many testers are available which measure some value of flowability, only some of these shall be mentioned here without claiming completeness: Jenike shear cell, annular shear cells, triaxial tester, true biaxial shear tester, Johanson Indicizers, torsional cell, uniaxial tester, Oedometer, Lambdameter, Jenike & Johanson Quality Control Tester, Hosokawa tester and others. It is beyond the scope of this paper to describe all testers in detail and to compare them one by one. Instead it will be tried first to define flow properties. Secondly applications are mentioned. Here the properties, which are needed for design, are described and the testers being able to measure these properties are mentioned. Finally a comparison with regard to application will be tried.


The Flow Function was first introduced by Jenike and first measured with help of the Jenike shear cell [1]. Therefore a short explanation of the Flow Function and the relevant procedure shall be given here. The main part of the Jenike shear tester is the shear cell (Fig. 1). It consists of a base A, a ring B resting on top of the base and a lid C. Base and ring are filled with a sample of the bulk solid. A vertical force is applied to the lid. A horizontal shearing force is applied on a bracket attached to the lid. Running shear tests with identically preconsolidated samples under different normal load gives maximum shearing forces S for every normal force N.

Fig. 1 Jenike shear tester.

Division of N and S by the cross-sectional area of the shear cell leads to the normal stress σ and the shear stress τ. Fig. 2 shows a σ,τ-diagram. The curve represents the maximum shear stress τ the sample can support under a certain normal stress σ; it is called the yield locus. Parameter of a yield locus is the bulk density ρb. With higher preconsolidation loads the bulk density ρb increases and the yield loci move upwards. Each yield locus terminates at point E in direction of increasing normal stresses σ. Point E characterizes the steady state flow, which is the flow with no change in stresses and bulk density. Two Mohr stress circles are shown. The major principal stresses of the two Mohr stress circles are characteristic of a yield locus, σ1 is the major principal stress at steady state flow, called major consolidation stress, and σc is the unconfined yield strength of the sample. Each yield locus gives one pair of values of the unconfmed yield strength σc and the major consolidation stress σ1. Plotting σc versus σ1 leads to the Flow Function (see later, Fig. 5). The angle ϕe between σ-axis and the tangent to the greatest Mohr circle - called effective yield locus - is a measure for the inner friction at steady state flow and is very important in the design of silos for flow.

Fig. 2 Yield locus and effective yield locus.

Fig. 5 Unconfined yield strength σc versus major at steady state flow σ1(Flow Function) and versus major principal stress at consolidation σ1,C (limestone: x50 = 4,8 µm).

Very often a theoretical experiment is used to show the relationship between σ1 and σc (Fig. 3). A sample is filled into a cylinder with frictionless walls and is consolidated under a normal stress σ1 leading to a bulk density ρb,. After removing the cylinder, the sample is loaded with an increasing normal stress up to the point of failure. The stress at failure is the unconfmed yield strength σc. Contrary to results of shear tests steady state flow cannot be reached during consolidation, i.e. the Mohr circle will be smaller. As a result density ρb and unconfined yield strength σc will also be smaller compared to the yield locus gained with shear tests [2].

Fig. 3 Unconfined yield strength.

A tester in which both methods of consolidation - either steady state flow (Fig. 1 and 2) or uniaxial compression (Fig. 3) - can be realized, is the true biaxial shear tester [2,3,4,5] (Fig. 4). The sample is constrained in lateral x - and y-direction by four steel plates. Vertical deformations of the sample are restricted by rigid top and bottom plates. The sample can be loaded by the four lateral plates, which are linked by guides so that the horizontal cross-section of the sample may take different rectangular shapes. In deforming the sample, the stresses σx and σy can be applied independently of each other in x- and y-direction. To avoid friction between the plates and the sample the plates are covered with a thin rubber membrane. Silicone grease is applied between the steel-plates and the rubber membrane. Since there are no shear stresses on the boundary surfaces of the sample σx and σy are principal stresses. With the true biaxial shear tester the measurement of both stresses and strains is possible.

Fig. 4 True Biaxial Shear Tester.

With the true biaxial shear tester experiments were carried out to investigate the influence of the stress history and the influence of different consolidation procedures on the unconfined yield strength [2,3,4]. Only results of the second point shall be mentioned here. For getting a yield locus corresponding to Fig. 2 the minor principal stress σ2 in y-direction (Fig. 4) is kept constant during a test. The major principal stress σ1 in x-direction is increased continuously up to the point of steady state flow with constant values of σ1, σ2 and ρb. Afterwards, the state of stress is reduced, with smaller constant σ2-values and smaller maximum σ1-values. By setting σ2 = 0 the unconfined yield strength σc can be measured directly. Additionally, comparative measurements with Jenike’s tester were performed. Although two different kinds of shear testers (Jenike and biaxial shear cell) have been used, the measurements agree well [2].

For investigation of the influence of different consolidating procedures - in analogy to the uniaxial test of Fig. 3 - samples were consolidated in the true biaxial shear tester from a low bulk density to a selected higher bulk density before the shear test started. The higher bulk density ρb could be obtained in different ways. Fig. 6 demonstrates three different possibilities (I, II, III) to consolidate the sample to get the same sample volume and, hence, the same bulk density. In case of procedure I the x-axis and in case of procedure III the y-axis coincide with the direction of the major principal stress σ1,c at consolidation. In case of procedure II in both directions the major principal stress σ1,c is acting. After consolidation the samples were sheared as described above. σ2 in y-direction was kept constant at σ2 = 0 and σ1 was increased up to the point of failure, leading to the unconfined yield strength. The results are plotted in Fig. 5 as σc versus σ1,c, being the major principal stress at consolidation. The functions σc = f (σ1,c corresponding to procedures I, II and III are below the Flow Function σc = f (σ1). The distance between the function σc = f (σ1,c) of procedure I and the Flow Function is quite small. Hence, the function σc = f (σ1,c) of procedure I can be used as an estimation of the Flow Function. The functions of Fig. 5 are gained with a limestone sample (x50 = 4,8 µm). The difference in the functions of Fig. 5 will be different for other bulk solids, i.e. a generalized estimate of the Flow Function by knowing only the function σc = f (σ1,c) of procedure I is not possible.

Fig. 6 Sample consolidation principal stress.

Procedure I is identical to the procedure in Fig. 3 realized in uniaxial testers, e.g. the testers of Gerritsen [6] and Maltby [7]. The function σc = f (σ1,c) of procedure II can be compared with experiments performed by Gerritsen after nearly isotropic consolidation (triaxial test) [8]. Again, a good qualitative agreement between Gerritsen’s results and the results with the true biaxial shear tester could be obtained [2]. More important with respect to the present paper is the function σc = f (σ1,c) of procedure III showing anisotropic behaviour of the measured limestone sample. A strong influence of the stress history on the strength of the sample exists, i.e. the strength is dependent on direction of the applied stresses. There is one tester available in which the procedure III of Fig. 6 is realized [9]. If this tester is used for bulk solids showing anisotropic behaviour it may be concluded that this tester leads to too small σc-values. It has to be mentioned that most bulk solids behave anisotropically.

The Flow Function as the dependence of the unconfined yield strength σc on the major consolidation stress σ1 (at steady state flow) can only be determined using testers where both stress states can be realized. Steady state flow can be realized in Jenike’s tester, in annular shear cells, in a torsional shear cell, in the true biaxial shear tester and in a very specialized triaxial cell [2]. The unconfined yield strength σc can be determined by running tests in Jenike’s tester, in an annular shear cell [10], in uniaxial testers and in the true biaxial shear tester. Therefore, only Jenike’s tester, annular shear cells and the true biaxial shear tester can guarantee the measurement of Flow Functions σc = f (σ1) without further assumptions.


In the following, it will be shown which flow properties have to be known for special applications and which testers are suited to measure these properties.

3.1 Design of silos for flow

The best known and the most applied method to design silos for flow is the method developed by Jenike [1]. He distinguishes two flow patterns, mass flow and funnel flow, the border lines of which depend on the inclination of the hopper, the angle ϕe of the effective yield locus (Fig. 2) and the angle ϕw between the bulk solid and the hopper wall. For determining the angle ϕe steady state flow has to be achieved in the tester. The wall friction angle ϕw can easily be tested with Jenikes tester, but also with other direct shear testers.

The most severe problems in the design of silos for flow are doming and piping. Jenikes procedure for avoiding doming starts from steady state flow in the outlet area. After stopping the flow (aperture closed) and restarting it the flow criteria for doming can only be applied, if the Flow Function is known. As stated before the Flow Function can only be measured without further assumptions with the help of the Jenike tester, annular shear cells or the true biaxial shear tester. The latter is very complicated and cannot be proposed in its present form for application in the design of silos for flow.

Some bulk solids gain strength, when stored under pressure without movement. Principally this time consolidation can be tested with all testers. Besides the fact that time consolidation can most easily be tested with Jenikes tester and a new version of an annular shear cell [10] - easily with regard to time and equipment - only these testers yield Time Flow Functions which have to be known for applying the doming and piping criteria.

Piping can occur directly after filling the silo or after a longer period of satisfactory flow, e.g. due to time consolidation. In the latter case Flow Function and Time Flow Functions have to be known to apply the flow-no flow criteria. In the former case the pressures in the silo after filling have to be known, which are different from those during flow.

The anisotropic behaviour of bulk solids mentioned in connection with Fig. 5 (procedure III) is of no influence in the design of silos for flow. With help of Fig. 5 and 6 it was explained that steady state flow was achieved with σ1 (at steady state flow) acting in x-direction. The unconfined yield strength was also measured with the major principal stress acting in x-direction. During steady state flow in a hopper the major principal stress is in the hopper-axis horizontal. In a stable dome above the aperture the unconfmed yield strength also acts horizontally in the hopper axis. Therefore, the Flow Function reflects reality in the hopper area.

3.2 Design of silos for strength

For designing silos for strength, the stresses acting between the stored bulk solid and the silo walls have to be known. Since 1895 Janssen’s equation is used to calculate stresses in the bin-section. His equation is still the basis for many national and international codes and recommendations [11]. This equation contains besides geometrical terms and the acceleration due to gravity the bulk density ρb, the coefficient of wall friction µ = tan ϕw and the horizontal stress ratio λ. For ρb the maximum possible density being a function of the largest σ1-value in the silo have to be used. The coefficient of wall friction µ can be gained with the help of shear testers, if the tests are carried out at the appropriate stress level and if the results are correctly interpreted [12]. It shall be mentioned that the value of the angle used for the mass flow-funnel flow decision is generally not identical with the one needed in the design of silos for strength.

It is a lot more difficult to get reliable values for the parameter λ. In Janssen’s equation and all following applications λ is defined as the ratio of the horizontal stress at the silo wall to the mean vertical stress. Therewith a locally acting stress is related to a stress being the mean value of all stresses acting on a cross-section, i.e. two stresses acting on different areas are related. In research works and codes several different instructions to calculate λ are suggested. From the large numbers of different recommendations it can be seen that there is still an uncertainty in calculating λ

A step forward to a reliable determination of λ is the recommendation by the scheduled euro code [13] to measure λ in an uniaxial compression test, using a modified Oedometer. An Oedometer is a standard tester in soil mechanics to measure the settling behaviour of a soil under a vertical stress σv. Such a modified Oedometer, called Lambdameter, was proposed by Kwade et al. [14] (Fig. 7). The horizontal stress σh can be meausred with the help of strain gauges, lined over the entire perimeter of the ring. For further details see [14]. A large number of tests have been performed to investigate influences like filling procedure, influences of side wall friction, influence of friction at lid and bottom, duration of the test, minimum stress level and others. 41 bulk solids having angles ϕe of the effective yield locus between 20° and 57° were tested in the Lambdameter. The results are summarized in Fig. 8, where λ is plotted versus ϕe. For comparison, the proposals by Koenen and Kezdy and the recommendation of the German code DIN 1055, part 6, are plotted in the graph. It can be concluded that none of the three is in line with the measured values and that especially with high values of ϕe great differences exist between the measured and the recommended λ-values.

Fig. 7 Lambdameter.

Fig. 8 Horizontal stress ratio λ versus angle of effective yield locus ϕe (41 bulk solids).

The described problem in getting reliable λ-values for design results from the fact that no simple, theoretical model exists which combines known bulk solid properties like ϕc, ϕw or others with application in a satisfactory manner. As long as this relationship is not known the direct measurement in a special designed tester like the