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Individual solid particles are characterized by their size, shape, and density. Size and shape
are easily specified for regular particles such as spheres and cubes but for irregular particles
such as grains or flakes, size and shape terms are not so clear and need to be arbitrary defined.

The shape of individual particles is often treated as spherical and it is independent from particle
size. The sphericity s of a particle with a diameter Dp, is equal to 1. For non regular particles
the sphericity can be defined as:

Dp = equivalent diameter or nominal diameter of the particle
Sp = surface area of one particle
= volume of one particle

The equivalent diameter sometimes is defined sometimes as the diameter of a sphere of equal
volume. For fine granular materials, however it is difficult to determine the exact volume or
surface area of a particle, and Dp is often considered as the nominal size based on screen analysis
or microscopic examination. The surface area is found from adsorption measurements or from
a pressure drop in a bed of particles and then the sphericity is calculated with the previous
In general, diameter is used for any equidimensional particle for those which are not
equidimensional then are characterized by the second longest major dimension. For the needle
like particles Dp would refer to the thickness of the particle and not to their length.
By convention particle sizes have units depending on the size range involved. Coarse particles
are measured in mm or in; fine particles in terms of screen size; very fine particles in m or nm.

Sieving is a physical method for mixture separating. Consist in pass a mixture of different size
solid particles through a screen. The smaller or finer particles pass through it while the coarser
ones remain in the screen. Sieves can be made by fix bars or moving bars, by metal plates with
holes of the required size or by woven wire screens.
The separation of materials in different particle sizes has, in many cases, great importance for
constituting the media to prepare a product for selling in market or for a subsequent unit
operation. In the other hand, this separation use to be a method of physical analysis, either to
the control of efficacy of other basic unit operations such as milling or grinding or to determine
the value of the product for some specific application of itself.
For example, the carbon is classified and then sold, depending on its particle size. Some
industrial equipment, such as mechanical feeders use in steam boilers, require certain particle
size limits to work properly. In the case of sand and gravel for concrete just with a specific
serial of particle size can be obtained the major compacting with a minimal of concrete and
supply a maximal mechanical resistance and an absence of empty holes in the mass material.
Dry sieving is applied to materials with low humidity or materials that were previously dried.
Humid or wet sieving is carried out with addition of water to the material, in order to drag
through the screen the finer particles.
The material which does not pass through the screen holes or meshes is named as fraction
rejected or positive fraction and the one which passes is called negative fraction or sifted.


These are use to measure particle size distribution in a range of 3 to 0.0015 in (76 mm to 38
m). Testing sieves are made of woven wire screens, the mesh and the measures of which are
carefully standardized. The openings are square. Each screen is identified in meshes per inch.
The actual openings are smaller than those corresponding to the mesh numbers, however,
because of the thickness of the wires. The standard Tyler screen series are based on the opening
of 200 mesh screen, which is established at 0.074 mm. The area of the openings on any one
screen in the series is exactly twice that of the openings in the next smaller screen. The ratio of
the actual mesh dimension of any screen to that of the next smaller screen is, then 2 = 1.41.
In making analysis the particles retained on each screen are removed and weighed, and the
masses of the individual screen increments are converted to mass fractions or mass percentages
of the total sample. The results are tabulated to show the mass fraction of each screen increment
as a function of the mesh size range of the increment. Since the particles of any one screen are
passed by the screen immediately ahead of it, two numbers are needed to specify the size range
of an increment, one for the screen through which the fraction passes and the other on which it
is retained. Thus, the notation 14/20 means through 14 mesh and on 20 mesh.
A typical screen analysis is shown in Table 28.2. The first two columns give the mesh size
and width of opening of the screens; the third column is the mass fraction of the total sample
that is retained on the designated screen. This is xi, where I is the number of the screen starting
at the bottom of the stack; thus i = 1 for the pan, and screen i + 1 is the screen immediately
above the screen i. The symbol Dpi means the particle diameter equal to the mesh opening of
screen i. The last two columns show the average particle diameter pi in each increment and
the cumulative fraction smaller than each value of Dpi.

A graph of the distribution is given by a plot of , where +1 is the
(+1 )
particle size range in increment i. In graphs 28.2a and b is illustrated the direct and adjusted
differential plots for the 20/28 mesh and smaller particle sizes in Table 28.2.
Cumulative plots are made from results like those in columns 2 and 5 of Table 28.2. When the
overall range of particle size large, such plots often show the diameter on a logarithmic scale.

The results expressed in retained fractions give different curves when the analysis is made with
different screen serials with different size ranges, therefore, each result is specific for each
screen serials, as we can see in the next Table:

Mesh Screen Average Retained Cumulative Cumulative

Number Opening particle weight (%) fraction fraction
Tyler (m) diameter bigger size smaller
series (m) (%) size (%)
6 3.327 0 0 100
8 2.362 2.845 1.7 1.7 98.3
10 1.651 2.006 23.5 25.2 74.8
14 1.168 1.410 29.8 55 45
20 833 1 21.7 76.7 23.3
28 589 711 10.5 87.2 12.8
35 417 503 6.2 93.4 6.6
48 295 356 2.8 96.2 3.8
65 208 252 1.7 97.9 2.1
100 147 178 1.0 98.9 1.1
150 104 126 0.5 99.4 0.6
200 74 89 0.2 99.6 0.5

This limitation does not affect the cumulative diagrams where is not necessary determine the
average particle diameters of each fraction as in the differential diagrams. When plots are
presented in arithmetic scales, often we find an agglomeration of the values for smaller particle
sizes. To avoid that, the particle diameter or the average particle diameter is presented in
logarithmic scale.


Dry screening is useful for sizing particles with diameters greater than 44 m (325 mesh), wet
screen analysis for diameters down to 10 m. Particles finer than this can be measured in
different ways. Optical microscopy and gravity sedimentation are used with particles1 to 100
m in diameter, as is Coulter counter, a device that measures changes in the resistivity in an
electrolyte as it carries the particles one by one through a small orifice. Light-scattering
techniques, sedimentation in centrifuges or ultracentrifuges, and electron microscopy are used
with even finer particles.
The screen analysis shown in Table 28.2 applies to a sample of crushed quartz. The density of
the particles is 2650 kg/m3 (0.00265 g/mm3) and the shape factors are a = 2 and s = 0.571.
For the material between 4-mesh and 200-mesh in particle size, calculate a) Aw in mm2/g and
Nw in particles/g, b) v, c) s, d) w, e) Ni for the 150/200-mesh increment and f) What fraction
of the total number of particles is in the 150/200-mesh increment?

= = 3965
= 3 = 188.7 3

a) For the 4/6-mesh increment is the arithmetic mean of the of the mesh openings of
the defining screens, or, from Table 28.2, (4.699 + 3.327)/2 = 4.013 mm. For this

increment = 0.0251; hence = 0.0251/4.013 = 0.0063 and 3 = 0.0004.

Corresponding quantities are calculated for the other 11 increments and summed to give

= 0.8284 and 3 = 8.8296. Since the pan fraction is excluded, the specific

surface and number of particles per unit mass of particles 200-mesh or larger are found
by dividing the results of the corresponding equations by 1- x1 (since i = 1 for the pan),
or 1 0.0075 = 0.9925. Then
3965 0.8284
= = 3309 2 /
188.7 8.8296
= = 1679 /
b) = 1 = 0.4238
8.8296 3
c) The volume surface mean diameter is found by = 0.8284 = 1.207

d) Mass mean diameter is found by = = 1.677

e) The number of particles in the 150/200-mesh increment is found by:

2 0.0031
2 = 3 = 20.002650.0893 = 836 /
f) This is 836/1679 = 0.498 = 49.8 % of the particles in the top twelve increments. For the
material in the pan fraction the number of particles and the specific surface area are
enormously greater than for the coarser material, but they cannot be accurately
estimated from the data in Table 28.2.




Unit Operations and Chemical Engineering, Warren L. McCabeMcGraw-Hill Book Co.,

Transport Phenomena and Unit Operations, Richard G. Griskey, A John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,