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Powder Technology 112 2000.

263272
www.elsevier.comrlocaterpowtec

Two-fluid approach for plug flow simulations in horizontal


pneumatic conveying
A. Levy )
Pearlstone Center for Aeronautical Engineering Studies, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ben-Gurion Uniersity of the Nege, Beer-Shea, Israel

Abstract

The two-fluid theory has been used in order to model plug flow in a horizontal pneumatic conveying pipeline. A three-dimensional
3D. model, which enables simulation of dense phase flow, has been developed. The model solves the conservation equations for mass
and momentum for the gas and solids phases by using a finite volume numerical method. Solids contact stress has been introduced and
was described as a function of the bulk density. The numerical simulations demonstrated the formation and deformations of plugs along a
horizontal pipe. Both axial and radial pressure drops have been examined and qualitatively compared with experimental data.
It was concluded that due to plug creation and destruction, it is impossible to obtain the plug velocity by cross-correlation between
various radial or axial pressure drops. The changes of the radial pressure drop is a very typical property of plug flow and as a result can
be used to identify the transition from dilute phase flow to wave-like flow. This flow property can be used to examine the operational
condition of pneumatic conveying systems. q 2000 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Pneumatic conveying; Dense phase; Plug flow; Wave-like flow; Numerical simulations

1. Introduction required to meet operation demands but the material is not


capable of such flows. Jones and Mills w3x developed a
Pneumatic conveying systems are to transport a wide
fluidization test that can be used to classify bulk materials
range of dry bulk particulate materials. These systems may
according to the modes of flow they can achieve in the
be classified according to the mode of gassolids flow that
pipeline of a pneumatic conveying system. Two distinct
can be observed in the pipeline as either suspension or
modes of non-suspension flow can be identified and they
non-suspension flow. In suspension flow, commonly re-
are presented in Fig. 1.
ferred as dilute-phase flow, the transport velocity is suffi-
Observation of the flow patterns of many fine powders,
cient to ensure that the majority of the particles are sus-
such as cement and flour which exhibit very low deaera-
pended in the conveying gas. In non-suspension flow,
tion rates. when transported at velocities less than those
commonly referred to as dense-phase flow, the transport
needed for fully suspended flow in horizontal pipes, re-
velocity is less than that necessary to keep particles sus-
veals that these powders are transported in a stratified
pended in the conveying gas. As a result, the majority of
flow. Fig. 1a represents a moving-bed flow, also known as
the particles are not suspended in the conveying gas.
a stratified flow, in which a high concentration layer of
Non-suspension flow types of pneumatic conveying sys-
fluidized material occupies the lower portion of the pipe.
tems are of special interest for industry due to several
In the upper portion of the pipe particles are suspended in
aspects such as: lower rates of particle attrition or pipeline
the transport gas. In a pneumatic conveying system the gas
wear, high mass flow rate and, in many cases, greater
density decreases along the transport line due to the falling
energy efficiency w1,2x. Unfortunately, only certain bulk
pressure of the conveying gas. If steady-state flow and
materials will flow in a non-suspension mode of flow. This
constant mass flow rates are assumed, the superficial gas
leaves many companies, which handle bulk materials, with
velocity must increase along the pipe, which may result in
the dilemma that non-suspension pneumatic conveying is
a change in the mode of flow from non-suspension to
suspension flow. As a consequence, the layer height de-
)
Tel.: q972-7-6477092; fax: q972-7-6472813. creases along the transport line, as shown in Fig. 1a. In
E-mail address: avi@bgumail.bgu.ac.il A. Levy.. order to model this type of stratified behavior in liquid

0032-5910r00r$ - see front matter q 2000 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 0 3 2 - 5 9 1 0 0 0 . 0 0 3 0 1 - 6
264 A. Ley r Powder Technology 112 (2000) 263272

noted this phenomenon, and that further downstream sev-


eral short waves could be seen close together with a long
gap before another series of waves. This implies that the
waves increase in length and then break-up.
Mason et al. w16x investigated the nature of wave-like
gassolid flows. In their work, they used pressure, sound
and capacitance measurement techniques along the pipeline
to observe the behavior of the flow. It should be noted that
both the sound and the capacitance techniques measure the
average value of the quantity at a pipe cross-section. The
motion detector was also capable of detecting waves, but
the peaks in its signal were much wider than the peaks that
were obtained with the capacitance sensor.
Fig. 1. Sketch of two distinct modes of non-suspension flow that can be Over the past decade, the significance of three-dimen-
identified in a horizontal pipe. a. Stratified flow, and b. plug flow. sional 3D. effects in gassolid flows has been recognized.
Wave-like gassolid flow in a horizontal pipe has been
investigated experimentally by Cairns et al. w17x. A non-in-
trusive measuring technique for monitoring the transition
solids flow, Wilson w4x developed a two-layer model. This from a dilute phase flow to wave-like flow and to measure
model is a one-dimensional 1D. model, which describes the properties of the wave-like flow was developed. Two
the flow of two layers in a pipe. The fluidsolids mixture measuring techniques were used to observe the transition
in each layer is considered to be a single phase. Each layer and to measure the wave properties. The first was a
has a separate velocity, with momentum transfer between capacitance technique, which measured, indirectly, the av-
the layers due to shear forces at their interface. This erage mass in the pipe cross-section. The second technique
approach has been extended by a number of workers was based on the pressure difference measurement through
including those in Refs. w57x, but none of these models the pipe cross-section i.e., radial pressure difference.,
considered the mass transfer between the layers and hence, which exhibited a number of characteristics that were due
the depth of each layer remains constant. For liquidsolid to the 3D nature of the flow. A typical trace of radial
flows, this is not a significant limitation since the transport pressure difference, as was recorded by Ref. w17x, is shown
fluid is incompressible. For gassolid flows, this is not the in Fig. 2. When the signal is positive, the pressure at the
case, and experimental observations show a significant top of the pipe is higher than the pressure at the bottom
change in the depth of the layer as the transport fluid and the converse is true when the signal is negative. Thus,
expands towards the end of the pipe. when the signal is zero, the pressure at the pipe cross-sec-
Many powders and granular materials, which exhibit tion is uniform. Cairns et al. w17x reported that:
high permeability and deaeration rates such as poly-
ethylene pellets, are suitable for dense phase transport.
Observation of the flow patterns, in horizontal pipes, when The pressure difference in a cross-section is negligible
these powders are transported in dense phase reveals a before the arrival of a wave of material and in a dilute
wave-like flow. The principal features of the flow ob- phase flow.
served in wave-like gassolid flows are illustrated in Fig. As the wave approaches, the pressure in the top of the
1b. This mode of gassolids flow is often referred to as cross-section increases.
plug flow, due to the similarity between the flow patterns This pressure increases to a maximum at the rear of the
observed in this mode of flow and those seen in gasliquid wave and after the wave has passed the pressure decays
plug flow w8x. Between each wave is a stationary layer of to the pre-wave level.
material. Material is picked up from the stationary layer by
the moving plug, transported along the pipe in the wave,
and then dropped off the back of the wave to form a Based on the experimental observations of Cairns et al.
stationary layer further along the pipe. The depth of the w17x, it may be concluded that it is no longer sufficient to
stationary layer decreases as the flow velocity increases. employ 1D modeling to describe the flow. As a conse-
Several groups w913x have described the shape of the quence, it was decided to employ 3D modeling for this
waves with the slope at the back of the wave steeper than type of flow and to solve it numerically.
the wavefront. In order to measure the wavelength and In general, three theoretical approaches can be used for
their frequency, Hitt w14x used an intrusive sensor a modeling dense phase flow, namely: Two-fluid theory,
needle. to detect the presence of a wave. Hitts results, for Eulerian granular approach and discrete element method.
the transport of polyethylene pellets, imply that the waves Both the two-fluid theory and the Eulerian granular theory
are increasing in length along the pipeline. Mason w15x also are based on macroscopic balance equations of mass,
A. Ley r Powder Technology 112 (2000) 263272 265

Fig. 2. Radial pressure difference as recorded by Cairns et al. w17x.

momentum and energy for both the gas and the solids Eulerian granular or two-fluid models for n-solids phases,
phases. It is assumed that both phases occupying any point while n is going to N number of particles.
x, y, z . of the computational domain each with its own
volume fraction. The solid phase is dealt with as a
pseudo-fluid. The main different between these theories is 2. Present study
that the Eulerian granular method employs the kinetic
theory of rare gases to model the granular phase properties, In the present study, the two-fluid theory has been used
such as pressure, temperature, viscosity, etc., while the in order to model plug flow in a 10-m horizontal pipe. A
two-fluid theory uses macroscopic correlations in order to 3D model, which enables the simulation of dense phase
model similar properties for the solid phase. It should be flow, has been developed. This model solves the conserva-
noted that traditionally, the two-fluid theory was used to tion equations for mass and momentum for the gas and
model dilute phase flow while the Eulerian granular ap- solids phases by using a finite volume numerical method.
proach was used to simulate both dense and dilute phase Solids contact stress has been introduced and was de-
flows. Unlike these theories, the discrete element method scribed as a function of the bulk density w18,19x. As a
is an EulerianLagrangian approach, in which the gas result, the value of the solid volume fraction never passed
phase is assumed as the continuous phase, which occupies the maximum value, which can be obtained from the
every point in the computational domain, and the solids packing limit factor.
particles occupy discrete points in the computational do-
main. As consequence, mass, momentum and energy bal-
ance equations should be solved for each particle within
2.1. The governing equations
the computational domain. This method is able to take into
account various types of particleparticle and wallpar-
ticle interactions from the basic dynamic approach. Hence, The governing equations for two-phase isothermal flow
there is no need to develop or use macroscopic modeling are given by the following.
for the solid phase. As such, this modeling needs a large The continuity equations. The continuity equation for
amount of memory and CPU time in order to solve real the k-phase is given by:
problems. As a result, no full-scale problem has been E
solved yet by using the discrete element method. For rk r k . q = rk r k Vk . s 0 1.
Et
example, Tsuji et al. w12x used this method for plug
simulation in a horizontal pipe. Due to the computation where k phase can be the gas or the solid phase.
limitations, they considered a very short pipe 0.6 m.., The momentum equations. The momentum equation
large particles Dp s 10 mm.. and simulated the flow with for the k phase is given by:
a small amount of particles N s 150. in the computational E
domain. rk r k Vk . q = w rk r k Vk Vk x
Et
It should be noted that the discrete element approach is
similar to the other approaches in the limit of solving the s y= w r kt k x y = r k Pk . q r k r k g q Mk 2.
266 A. Ley r Powder Technology 112 (2000) 263272

In the present study, it was assumed that the particle The inter-phase momentum transfer is represented by
density is constant and that the conveying air behaves as
an ideal gas. Thus, the gas pressuredensity relation is Mk s K Vk i y Vk . q Pk=r k 5.
described by:
The inter-phase momentum transfer term was derived from
Pg s rg RTg 3. correlation developed to model fluidization processes, since
the range of solids concentrations experienced in pneu-
In addition, it was assumed that the effective normal stress
matic transport systems is similar. This form has been
of the solids phase is the sum of the sheared gas pressure
employed by Patel and Cross w20x for modeling gassolids
and the solids contact stress. Thus, the effective normal
fluidized beds. For solids concentrations greater than 0.2
stress of the solid phase is described by:
the inter-phase friction coefficient, K, was computed by
1r b
Ps s rg RTg q sn0 rsrrs 0 . 4. using the Ergun w21x equation.
where sn0 is a particular value of the solids contact stress rs2 m 1
for solid volume fraction rs0 and b is a constant coeffi- K s 150 q 1.75rs rg Vg y Vs 6.
rg d s2 ds
cient over a given range of contact pressure w18,19x.

Fig. 3. a. Prediction of the numerical simulation of plug creation and destruction along a horizontal pipe and time evolution. b. Prediction of the
numerical simulation of plug creation and destruction along a horizontal pipe and time evolution.
A. Ley r Powder Technology 112 (2000) 263272 267

Fig. 3 continued ..

For solid concentrations less than 0.2, the inter-phase The turbulent stresses in the momentum equations for
friction coefficient was based upon the aerodynamic force the k phase are represented by a Buossinesq turbulent-
on particle as follows: viscosity model w24x. The shear tensor for the k phase is
3rs 1 given by
K s C D rgy2.65 .
/ r r V y Vs
2 ds 2 g g g
7.
t k s G k =Vk q =VkT . 10 .
where the single particle drag coefficient, C D , is given by
where the diffusion coefficient for the k phase, G k , takes
w22x
into account turbulent and laminar effects, such as, molec-
24 ular and turbulent kinematic viscosities, l and t , respec-
C D s max
Re
1 q 0.15Re 0.687 . ,0.445 8.
tively, and is given by:
and is modified to take account of multi-particle effects G k s r k l q t . 11 .
using the method of Richardson and Zaki w23x. The particle
Reynolds number is given by The turbulent viscosity was calculated by the modified
rg d s rg Vg y Vs k turbulence model of Mostafa and Mongia w25x. The
Re s
. 9. turbulent and the laminar viscosities are assumed to be
m properties of the gas phase although they are shared by
268 A. Ley r Powder Technology 112 (2000) 263272

both phases. The dynamic viscosities for the k phase were the governing equations numerically. The numerical solver
then calculated by multiplying the gas kinematic viscosi- and grid generator, which are incorporated in the PHOEN-
ties by the density of the k phase, r k . ICS software by CHAM UK., have been used in the
The friction force between the solid phase and the pipe present work. The numerical procedure for solving the
wall was modelled by adding a source term to the solid governing equations is based on the Inter-Phase Slip Algo-
phase momentum equation for those control volumes adja- rithm IPSA.. The numerical models and their solution are
cent to the pipe wall as suggested in Ref. w26x. described by Spalding w27x.
The friction force between the conveying gas and the A 3D, 10-m long horizontal pipe with internal diameter
pipe wall was modeled by no slip condition at the wall, a of 0.08 m was chosen as the calculation domain. The
logarithmic velocity profile; and wall friction factor based calculation domain was divided into 400 axial slices, with
upon a smooth pipe correlation. This force was taken into each slice containing 25 control volumes. Using body-fitted
account by adding a source term to the gas phase momen- coordinates BFC., the 3D control volume grid of the pipe
tum equation for those control volumes adjacent to the section was generated. The grid was derived from a 5 = 5
pipe wall. = 400 rectangular grid. The axial length of the control
volumes in the straight pipe section was 0.025 m, which is
about one third of the pipe diameter. The body fitting
3. Numerical study routines distorted the grid in order to achieve a circular
cross-section and the pipeline geometry. The bulk material
Finite-volume formulation of the governing equations that was used in the numerical simulations was poly-
for the two phases have been employed in order to solved ethylene pellets, which were mono-sized and spherical

Fig. 4. Prediction of the numerical simulation for: a. particle concentration, b. radial pressure drop, and c. average axial pressure along the horizontal
pipe as was evolved after 4.2 s.
A. Ley r Powder Technology 112 (2000) 263272 269

with a diameter of 3 mm and particle density of 880 prediction of the numerical simulations for a developed
kgrm3. flow field were used to initiate the simulation of the
The boundary and initial conditions that have been used unsteady gassolid flow.
in the simulation were as follows.
Inlet to the calculation domain For the first 1 s of
the flow, uniform cross-sectional velocity and mass flow 4. Analysis of the numerical results and qualitative
rates were specified for both phases. After that time, comparison with published experimental data
uniform cross-sectional velocity and mass flow rate was
specified only for the gas phase i.e., zero mass flow rate Although the number of experimental studies that de-
for the solid phase was assumed.. scribe the characteristics of the flow field has grown over
Outlet of the calculation domain uniform cross- the last few years, only partial information has been mea-
sectional pressure boundary and zero gradient for velocity sured and published. As a result, it was impossible to
were specified for both phases. comprehensively validate the predictions of the model, and
Walls gas phase: no slip condition and a logarith- so it was decided to compare the similarity with the
mic velocity profile. Solid phase: as suggested by Levy et characteristics of the predicted flow field and the experi-
al. w26x. mentally determined flow fields. Thus, only a qualitative
Initial conditions In order to find the initial comparison is presented.
condition for the numerical simulation, steady-state numer- The prediction of the numerical simulations of plug
ical simulation for air-only flow was conducted. Thus, the formation and deformation along a 10-m horizontal pipe is

Fig. 5. Radial pressure drops vs. time as were obtained by the numerical predictions at: a. 2 m, b. 3 m, c. 4 m, d. 5 m, e. 6 m, and f. 7 m from the
pipe inlet.
270 A. Ley r Powder Technology 112 (2000) 263272

presented in Fig. 3. Particles were fed into the pipe inlet described by a combination of airflow though various
during a time interval of 1 s. During this time, a long plug sections such as straight pipes and fluidized beds.
and high layer was formed near the pipe inlet. After the b. The radial pressure drop has similar trends and
first 1 s, only air mass flow was entered into the pipe inlet. amplitudes as the one reported by Cairns et al. w17x see
Thus, an unstable long plug, which built artificially during Fig. 2.. The amplitude of the radial pressure difference is
the first 1 s of the numerical simulation, was formed. As negative, with approximate constant value, through various
time proceeded, the unstable plug was then broken and layers. These values are dependent upon the depth of the
wavy-like flow, i.e., a series of plugs with low depth layers layer. It can be seen clearly that the wave caused a
between them, was preformed. From Fig. 3, it can be seen pressure jump at the top of the pipe cross-section and as a
that long unstable plugs deformed and formed new shorter result the axial pressure drop became positive. Its highest
plugs. In addition, moving plugs leave layers behind and value is obtained when the particle concentration achieved
decrease in their sizes. During the numerical study, it was its high value at the top of the pipe cross-section. The
found that the averaged plug length was just shorter than 1 lowest amplitude of the radial pressure drop was obtained
m long, as was reported by Cairns et al. w17x for similar at the front of the wave. This might be due to the appear-
type of flow with the same type of material. ance of high solids concentration and stress at that point
The prediction of the numerical simulations for the i.e., highest friction force appeared at the front of each
particle concentration, the radial pressure drop, and the plug..
average axial pressure along the pipe as were evolved after Cairns et al. w17x presented the radial pressure drop at
4.2 s are presented in Fig. 4. From this figure, it can be fixed locations vs. time e.g., see Fig. 2. and tried to
seen that both the radial and the axial pressure drop are estimate the plug velocity based on this measurement. If
depending upon the particle concentration. The following the plugs in the conveying line kept their shape and length
factors should be noted. along the conveying system as was assumed by Cairns et
a. The axial pressure along the pipe is similar to the al. w17x., the radial pressure drop which was presented in
one described by Liu and Mason w13x and the experimental Fig. 4b was enough for qualitative validation. Since the
results of Cairns et al. w17x. The axial pressure drop can be predictions of the numerical simulations revealed that both

Fig. 6. Axial pressure histories vs. time as were obtained by the numerical predictions at: a. 0 m inlet., b. 4 m, and c. 6 m from the pipe inlet.
A. Ley r Powder Technology 112 (2000) 263272 271

the plug shape and length changed along the pipe, it was drops, which have large separation between them. The
decided to check the changes of the radial pressure differ- change of the radial pressure drop is a very typical prop-
ence in time at various locations along the pipe. The radial erty of plug flow and as a result can be used to identify the
pressure drops vs. time as were obtained by the numerical transition from dilute phase flow to wave-like flow. This
predictions at 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 m, from the pipe inlet are flow property can be used to examine the operational
presented in Fig. 5. From these figures, the following items conditions of pneumatic conveying systems.
can be deduced.
a. Similar trends and amplitudes as the one reported by Nomenclature
Cairns et al. w17x were obtained see Fig. 2.. CD Single particle drag coefficient
b. Plugs were created and destroyed and as a result it is ds Average particle diameter wmx
impossible to make cross-correlation between various ra- g Gravity acceleration vector wmrs 2 x
dial pressure drops over a length of 1 m in order to obtain K Interphase-drag coefficient wkgrm3 sx
the plugs velocity. For example, it can be seen that there Mk Interfacial momentum transfer wNrmx
are two waves in Fig. 5b and only one in Fig. 5c. N Number of particles in domain
Similarly, two waves in Fig. 5d, none in Fig. 5e and one in Pk Pressurernormal stress of the k phase wPax
Fig. 5f. rk Volume fraction of the k phase
c. The change of the radial pressure drop is a very Re Reynolds number
typical property of plug flow and as a result can be used to Tg Constant gas temperature wKx
identify the transition from dilute phase flow to wave-like Vk Velocity vector of the k phase wmrsx
flow. This flow property can be used to examine the Vk i Velocity vector at the interface of the k phase
operational condition of pneumatic conveying systems. wmrsx
To support conclusion b., it should also be noted that Gk Diffusion coefficient of the k phase wkgrmsx
Cairns et al. w17x reported a great difference between the b Constant coefficient in Eq. 4. w x
values of a wave velocity, which were estimated by cross- m Dynamic viscosity wkgrmsx
correlation with two different measurement techniques, l Molecular kinematic viscosity wm2rsx
radial pressure drops and capacitance.. In their experimen- t Turbulent kinematic viscosity wm2rsx
tal study, the separation between the two radial pressure rk Density of the k phase wkgrm3 x
transducers and the two capacitance sensors were 200 mm sn0 Solid contract stress at rs0 wPax
and 2 m, respectively. The calculated plug velocity from tk Shear tensor for the k phase wPax
the radial pressure transducers was 0.75 mrs with uncer- R Ideal gas constant wm2rs 2 Kx
tainty of "3% and from the capacitance sensors was 2.4
mrs with uncertainty of "4%.
The axial pressure histories vs. time obtained by the Acknowledgements
numerical predictions at 0, 4, and 6 m from the pipe inlet
are presented in Fig. 6. The axial pressure at the pipe inlet The author gratefully acknowledges Dr. David J. Mason
was gradually increased due to the growing amount of for his helpful discussions.
conveyed solids in the pipeline at the first one second.
After that time the axial pressure oscillated as plugs were
created and destroyed. Similar behaviour was observed References
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