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Proceedings Issue: Behavior of Granular Media (2006) Münster, 08-09.11.2006

Finite Element simulation of fast granular flow in silos and resulting loads

G. A. Rombach Institute of Concrete Structures, Hamburg University of Technology, 21073 Hamburg, Germany

Abstract The failure rate in silos and bins for storage of granular material is still significant higher than in other structures. Thus a better knowledge of the behaviour of the granular media during flow and the resulting loads on the walls of the bin is urgently needed. A special nonlinear finite element program has been developed which enables the analysis of granular flow at high velocities and the estimation of the resulting pressures. Details about this consistent model are described in this paper together with the results of an eccentric discharged bin.

1 Introduction

Numerical models based on a continuum approach have become a valuable tool to simulate the behaviour of granular media in silos during at rest and during flow and further to estimate the actions that the structure has to be designed for. Within the last decades a special finite element software has been developed for this purpose. Mayor improvements have been obtained recently in the reduction of the time for conducting the numerical simulations. Furthermore with the actual version of the computer program (SILO- 05) there are no limitations with regard to the shape of the structure. Details of this model are given in the literature [1 – 4] and will not be repeated here. It has to be stated that besides the great improve- ment of the distinct element method in the last years, numerical models based on individual particles are unable to study the behaviour of grains in real silos due to the extreme number of grains stored within a bin and the arbitrary shape of particles.

Three principle problems have to be solved for a consistent modelling of granular flow in silos which will be discussed in the following [5 – 7]:

1. A consistent material description is needed,

2. The boundary conditions have to be modelled,

3. Efficient numerical algorithms are required

to carry out the nonlinear dynamic analysis

2 Material models

Granular materials exhibit quite a complex behav- iour that depends on many parameters, such as confined pressure, humidity or dust content. During static states, i.e. during at rest, the media shows significant shear strength whereas during dynamic discharge processes it flows with enor- mous deformation and shear rates and shows a fluid like behaviour. Moreover, granular materials are path and rate dependant. Because of this com- plexity, many different formulations have been proposed to simulate the behaviour of granular materials. A careful review of constitutive laws is given by Nielsen and Weidner [8, 9].

It is obvious that the reliability of any FE-analysis depends on the assumptions and simplifications of the numerical model used for the granular media. Therefore any analysis based on yield surfaces, like e.g. the Mohr-Coulomb criteria or other ana- lytical formulations can certainly not model the complex behaviour of granular media.

Three different constitutive models have been implemented in the finite element program.

- elasto-plastic formulation from Lade

- hypoplastic model of Kolymbas [10]

- hypoplastic model of Gudehus/Wolffersdorff

Within this study, the hypoplastic material model of Kolymbas [10] is used. The main advantage of this model is its simplicity and numerical stability. The stress rate can be calculated by the following equation:

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Proceedings Issue: Behavior of Granular Media (2006) Münster, 08-09.11.2006

o C

T =

1 (

2

TD DT

⋅+⋅ +

)

C tr

2

()

TDI

+

2 C tr DT + C 34
2
C
tr
DT
+
C
34
2 tr D
2
tr D

tr T

T

2

wherby: T is the Cauchy stress tensor D is the rate of deformation tensor C 1 to C 4 are material parameters

Another advantage of the Kolymbas formulation

is that the material parameters can easily be esti-

mated by a single test.

A strain rate dependent term is added to the mate-

rial model to take into account the viscosity of granular material during flow. Further details about the material description can be found in the literature [3, 4].

3 Finite Element Program

The finite element program is written in standard FORTRAN and can be easily implemented on every computer. The main features are:

- Lagrangian and Eulerian formulation of motion

- static and dynamic analysis

- different constitutive material models

- 2D, 3D and axisymmetric isoparametric elements

- thin layer interface element

- size of the element mesh is not limited

- variable density of bulk material is considered

Details of the finite element program can be found

in Rombach [3] and Neumann [4].

3.1 Boundary conditions

The stresses in the stored media and the loads on the structure are highly influenced by the interac- tion of the grains with the bin walls. A very thin layer with a thickness of only a few particles is

located close to the walls where the stored materi-

al exhibits high shear rates during flow.

Several interface algorithms like e.g. point to surface elements and spring elements, contact elements have been studied. The often used point to surface elements have caused great numerical problems [8]. It should be noted that the bulk material is always in contact with the silo walls. Thus complicated contact algorithms are not re- quired. The best results were obtained with a 16-

node-Interfaceelement (fig. 1) [3, 4]. The interpo- lation functions, normal to the wall direction, are linear (related to the friction model). The main advantage of this interface model compared to the surface-to-surface contact algorithm used in other commercial finite element packages is that no iterations are required and that penetration of the bulk solid nodes with the bin wall is not possible [5, 6]. The well known Coulomb’s friction model is used to describe the interaction between the rigid silo wall and the bulk solid.

6 18 13 y 5 2 14 6 2 17 14 9 1 16 19
6
18
13
y
5
2
14
6
2
17
14
9
1 16
19
15
7 3
7
12 8
t
3
z 15
-1
8
4
11 20
4 1
1
r
s -1
-1
1
1%
1170 e lements
L*D*L
T factorization 87%
Figure 2: Composition of CPU times

16-node interface element

20-node

bulk

element

y 10

16-node interface element 20-node bulk element y 10 z x 10 9 13 1 5 11

z

x

10 9 13 1 5 11 16 12
10
9
13
1
5
11
16
12

x

Figure 1: Elements used in the analysis: 20-node –volume element and 16-node thin layer interface element

3.2 Efficient numerical algorithms

The greatest pressures in silos do not occur during at rest conditions but during emptying of the bin. Therefore one must model the discharge phase. This requires a dynamic mechanical model and code. Simulations of the discharge processes are extremely time consuming due to the complex behaviour of the granular media and the dynamic analysis. Very small time steps of 1/1000 s were needed to guarantee convergence of the simula- tions. The size of the element mesh and the analysed discharge time are mostly limited by the time for the computation.

global stiffness matrix 4%

nodal forces 2% back substitution 2%

4% stiffness matrices

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Proceedings Issue: Behavior of Granular Media (2006) Münster, 08-09.11.2006

A study with different number of volume ele-

ments showed that most effort is required for sol- ving the linearized global equilibrium equations (fig. 2). Various solvers based on the Gauss algorithms or iterative procedures were tested in cooperation with the Institute of Applied Mathematics of the University of Dortmund. The best results were obtained with a modified Gauss elimination procedure according to ‘Crout’ and the ‘Umfpack’ numerical package. It has to be pointed out that the global stiffness matrix is non- symmetric. It was required to change the storage format of the global stiffness matrix from USS (unsymmetric sparse skyline format) used before to the COO-format (Coordinate format).

The stability of the dynamic analysis has been significantly improved by using smooth functions (e.g. cosine-hyperbolic) to simulate the opening of the silo. Discharge times of more than 3 seconds have been analyzed so far (see fig. 3).

-62.9

kN/m 2

parameters material model bulk material density wall friction coeff. outlet eccentricity opening time outlet -55.2
parameters
material model
bulk material
density
wall friction coeff.
outlet eccentricity
opening time
outlet
-55.2 kN/m 2
0.5 m
2.5 m
3.0 m
10 m

Kolymbas

sand

17.32 kN/m

0.27

e

0.001 x 200 = 0.2 s

3

a

= 1.25 m

Figure 3: Principal stresses and wall loads after a discharge time of t = 3 s

4 Results

4.1 Verification

A comprehensive verification of such a complex

software is required to guarantee reliable results. This includes a great number of numerical checks

as well as comparisons of numerical results with analytical and experimental data.

An example of such an analysis is shown in figure 4. The bin has a rectangular cross section

(a/b =1.0/1.0m) and a height of 3.15 m. It is filled with wheat. The left figure shows the horizontal wall pressure for different number of filling and discharge processes. On the right the numerical results (principal stress field and wall pressure) are plotted. The wall pressure curve is of exponential type, which is typical for storage conditions. A good agreement between experi- mental and numerical results can be seen.

h [m] +3,15 +3,00 +2,50 vertical wall load p w horizontal wall pressure p h
h [m]
+3,15
+3,00
+2,50
vertical wall
load p w
horizontal wall
pressure p h
+2,00
bulk material: wheat
= 8,3 kN/m
3
= 0,325 - 0,466
+1,50
test no. 31
FE-analysis
+1,00
95
72
72
95
+0,50
0,00
2
2
4
[kN/m ]
p hf
Experimental data of Motzkus [12]
Finite-Element-Analysis
Figure 4 Test results versus numerical analysis
4.2 Eccentric discharged silo
Discharge processes in silos of different dimen-
sions and arrangement of opening have been ana-
lyzed. Details of the comprehensive study are
test no. 78
test no. 60
test no. 60
test no. 78

given in Neumann [4, 7]. In the following the main results of such a numerical simulation are presented. The dimensions of the rectangular bin are given in Figure 5. Wheat is used as granular material.

1m 1m 3m 3m
1m
1m
3m
3m

6m

opening

FE-mesh

as granular material. 1m 1m 3m 3m 6m opening FE-mesh 1m A A 1m 3m 3m
1m A A 1m 3m
1m
A A
1m
3m

3m

section A-A 9 x 9 x 10 = 810 elements

parameters material model bulk material density internal friction angle wall friction coefficient outlet eccentricity opening time

Kolymbas

wheat

8.5 kN/m

33

0.35

e /d

3

o

a

c

= 1/3 = 0.33

0.001 x 200 = 0.2 s

Figure 5: Silo geometry and parameters

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Proceedings Issue: Behavior of Granular Media (2006) Münster, 08-09.11.2006

Figure 6 shows the principal stress field and the wall pressures for various time steps. During stor- age the maximum principal stresses are orientated in vertical direction. When the outlet at the bot- tom is opened, the granular material starts to flow. This results in a significant stress redistribution in the bin. The stresses in the outlet region are re- duced to very small values. A stress arch develops which results in a significant change of the wall pressure. This highly un-symmetric loading has to be considered in the design of the structure. In the upper part of the bin the stresses and wall pressures remain constant.

t = 0.17 s t = 0.18 s -12.3 -12.4 -17.5 -17.8
t = 0.17 s
t = 0.18 s
-12.3
-12.4
-17.5
-17.8
t = 0.24 s -16.3 -20.5
t = 0.24 s
-16.3
-20.5

Figure 6: Principal stresses and wall pressures of the 3d-analysis in section A-A in kN/m 2

t = 0.17 s

of the 3d-analysis in section A-A in kN/m 2 t = 0.17 s t = 0.18
t = 0.18 s
t = 0.18 s

t = 0.24

s

in section A-A in kN/m 2 t = 0.17 s t = 0.18 s t =
in section A-A in kN/m 2 t = 0.17 s t = 0.18 s t =

Figure 7: Velocities in section A-A for various time steps

Next the results of a discharge simulation for a slightly different silo geometry (a/b/h = 3.4/3.4/ 9.0 m) will be presented. Figure 8 shows a 3-D plot of the horizontal wall pressure after t = 0,43 s. The region with low stresses above the opening, where the bulk material is flowing and the stress arch can be seen. The density of the bulk material is significantly reduced in this region (fig. 10b). A maximum velocity of 1.9 m/s for the granular material is estimated (fig. 10a).

10 kN/m 2 full eccentric discharge t = 0,43 s
10
kN/m 2
full eccentric discharge
t = 0,43 s

Figure 8: 3-D plot of the horizontal wall pressure

23.4 23.1 31.6 0,71 m above silo bottom 25.0 discharge time t = 0,43 s
23.4
23.1
31.6
0,71 m above silo bottom
25.0
discharge time
t =
0,43 s
20.1
0.08
discharge
opening
0.6
21.8
10
0.5
22.1
19.6
33.0
23.5
23.0
18.5 16.9 2,51 m above the silo bottom discharge time t = 0,43 s discharge
18.5
16.9
2,51 m above
the silo bottom
discharge time
t
= 0,43 s
discharge
opening
22.5
15.6
kN/m 2
22.0
15.6
16.8
18.4

Figure 9: Horizontal wall pressure at different levels

18.4 Figure 9: Horizontal wall pr essure at different levels Figure 10: Velocity (left) and bulk

Figure 10: Velocity (left) and bulk density (right) after t = 0,43 s

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Proceedings Issue: Behavior of Granular Media (2006) Münster, 08-09.11.2006

9 Conclusions

A nonlinear finite element program has been developed to simulate granular flow in silos and to estimate the actions on the structure. Due to the improvements in the last years even 3-d analysis can be conducted on a standard PC. It should be emphasized that the intention of the numerical simulations is not to provide a computer code for the design of silos, but to study and explain the principal phenomenae during granular flow not well understood until now.

Acknowledgments

The author thanks the German Reasearch Organi- zation (DAAD) for their financial support of the research project.

References

[1] Landahl, H.: Berechnung der Druckverhält- nisse in zylindrischen Silozellen mit nicht- linearem Stoffgesetz für den Füllzustand und den Entleerungsbeginn. Ph. D. Thesis, Dort- mund University, 1983

[2] Häußler U., Eibl J.: Numerical investigations on discharging silos. Journal of Engineering Mechanics, 110, 1984, pp. 957-971

[3] Rombach G., Eibl J. (1995): Granular Flow of Materials in Silos - Numerical Results. Bulk Solids Handling, Volume 15, No. 1, 1995, pp. 65-70

[4] Neumann, F.: Numerische Simulation der Fließvorgänge granularer Medien in Silos bei exzentrischer Entleerung. Ph. D. Thesis, TU Hamburg, 2006

[5] Rombach G., Keiter T. (2002): Accurate han- dling of pressure peaks in FE-simulations of granular media. EM 2002, New York, 2.-5. June 2002

[6] Keiter W. R., Rombach G. A.: Numerical Aspects of FE-Simulations of Granular Flow in Silos. ASCE Journal of Engineering Mechanics Vol. 127 No. 10, Oct. 2001, pp.

1044-1050

[7] Rombach G., Neumann F.: 3-D Finite Element Modelling of granular flow in silos. In: EM2004 Proceedings, 17th ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference, Univ. of Delaware, Newark, June 13-16, 2004

[8] Nielsen, J. and Weidner, J. 1998. The choice of constitutive laws for silo media. In:

Brown, C. J., Nielsen J., editors. Silos: Fun- damental of theory behaviour and design, pp. 539-550. London: Spon.

[9] Weidner, J.: Vergleich von Stoffgesetzen granularer Schüttgüter zur Silodruckermitt- lung. University of Karlsruhe, Germany, report no. 10 of Institute ‘Massivbau und Baustofftechnologie’. 1990

[10] Kolymbas D. (1988): Eine konstitutive Theorie für Böden und andere körnige Stoffe. report of Institute of Geomechanics, Karlsruhe University, Germany

[11] Rombach G. A. et. al.: Modelling of granular flow in silos based on finite element method ANSYS vs. SILO. Powder and Grains 2005, Stuttgart, pp. 469-473

[12] Motzkus, Ulrich: Belastung von Siloböden und Auslauftrichtern durch körnige Schütt- güter. Ph. D. Thesis, TU Braunschweig, 1974

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