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SAGT Project dissemination report – No.

41 September, 2015

The following series of articles provide a brief insight into the framework adopted for simulating
grain sorting equipment (such as gravity sorters, destoners etc.). The limited effort invested in this
domain have prompted the need to develop efficient tools for virtually designing and developing
these equipment. The objective of this effort is to be able to describe some of the existing virtual
(CFD) modelling strategies used in industry today. The modelling of this system would be done
by employing a computational fluid dynamics based approach where a set of numerical methods
are applied to obtain approximate solutions to problems with fluid/granular flow.
Application of CFD-DEM in the food and agriculture sector (brief survey)
A detailed survey of existing literature in order to identify current trends in virtual modelling (CFD
and granular flow models) has been undertaken during the course of the project. The fluid dynamic
approach would be adopted in this project in order to characterize and understand the physics
behind gravity separation. This added insight would enable improved design and performance
assessments of the self-activating gravity table. The limited amount of relevant work on gravity
separators (empirical or computational work) can be supplemented by collating results from other
closely related applications such as shaking separation of rice and paddy. An empirical basis of
granular segregation phenomena can be obtained by examining these related studies on shaking
separation of rice. The mechanism of movement of paddy and rice in opposite directions on an
oscillating tray separator was first proposed by Das [1]. This mechanism attributed separation to
differences in coefficients of friction between paddy and the deck, rice and the deck and paddy
and rice respectively. A similar surface contact dominated mechanism could also be applicable to
gravity separators. The deck of a destoner has high surface friction to ensure that there is sufficient
traction between the particles and the surface to prevent contacting grains from rolling down
towards the lower end.

Figure 1 - Kinematic diagram of tray type paddy separator

In addition to these empirical efforts, several numerical studies on grain separators have also been
reported in literature. The CFD-DEM, a method based on the resolution of inter-particle contact,
SAGT Project dissemination report – No. 41 September, 2015

has been a popular choice for several research groups that investigate agricultural and food
processing operations using numerical models. The reported applications of DEM to agricultural
and food processing operations is limited to rather simplified case studies (dealing with the
behaviour of a few hundred particles) including numerical studies on the separation process of
soybeans and mustard seeds by a vibrating screen (Li et al., 2002) and simulation of the shaking
separation of paddy and brown rice (Sakaguchi et al., 2001). So far, the latter work represents the
only validated application of DEM in grain downstream processing. This model was validated
against experimental results, with good agreement reported with respect to the wave-like behaviour
of the grain assembly and the macroscopic separation behaviour of the rice.
There is a need for additional CFD-DEM studies of gravity separators that would offer new
insights into existing phenomena. Aiming at designing the next generation process. The
computational power available has increased exponentially over the past decade enhancing the
capability of the existing DEM tools. More complex systems can now be easily resolved to an
acceptable degree of accuracy. Hence, a more concerted effort into the afore-mentioned work
would provide fascinating new insights into the bulk behaviour of food particulates during seed
processing and cleaning applications. The current work represents such an effort in which a
coupled CFD-DEM framework is used to assess relevant system properties as a function of the
operating conditions (particularly deck tilt of the destoner).
This project is supported by the SEVENTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME of EU, Industry-
Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) - Marie Curie Actions. Grant no.: 324433.
Li, J., Webb, C., Pandiella, S. S. and Campbell, G. M. (2002) 'A Numerical Simulation of
Separation of Crop Seeds by Screening—Effect of Particle Bed Depth', Food and Bioproducts
Processing, 80(2), pp. 109-117.

Sakaguchi, E., Suzuki, M., Favier, J. F. and Kawakami, S. (2001) 'PH—Postharvest Technology:
Numerical Simulation of the Shaking Separation of Paddy and Brown Rice using the Discrete
Element Method', Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research, 79(3), pp. 307-315.