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FINITE ELEMENT METHODS FOR ANALYSIS OF STATIC
PRESSURE DISTRIBUTIONS IN GRAIN SILOS WITH ECCENTRIC
OUTLETS.

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ECCOMAS 2000

Barcelona, 11-14 September 2000

ECCOMAS

PRESSURE DISTRIBUTIONS IN GRAIN SILOS WITH ECCENTRIC

OUTLETS.

A. Couto Yez *, M. Guaita Fernndez *, F. Ayuga Tllez , and Pedro Aguado Rodrguez +

*

Universidad de Santiago de Compostela.

Departamento de Ingeniera Agroforestal

Campus de Lugo.27002 Lugo, Spain.

e-mail: guaita@lugo.usc.es

Universidad Politcnica de Madrid.

Departamento de Construccin y Vas rurales.

Avda. Complutense s/n, 28045 Madrid Spain

Email: ayuga@cvr.upm.es

+

Universidad de Len.. Spain.

Abstract. One of the main causes of grain silo failure is the build-up of excessive

pressure on the silo wall during discharge. Different theoretical models have been

proposed for analysing pressure distributions during discharge, but to date none has

proved totally satisfactory. These problems are compounded when the grain outlet is

eccentric. In practice, the problem is typically dealt with by applying generous safety

margins to the specifications determined for static pressures and central discharge.

However, the current availability of powerful computers means that numerical

methods such as finite element analysis can be applied to problems of this type.

Indeed, many research teams are now investigating the use of finite element methods

in silo design.

outlets. To this end, silos were modelled using ANSYS 5.5, which generates an APDL

parameter file, facilitating rapid modification of model parameters. Here, we present

results for a silo with a height of 10.5 m (cylinder height 8 m, base cone height 2.5 m),

a silo radius of 3 m, and an outlet radius of 0.5 m. Outlet eccentricity ranged from 0%

(central outlet) to 100% (maximally eccentric outlet, in top view appearing outside but

tangential to the cylinder).

1

A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

1 INTRODUCTION

Since the last third of the XIX century, numerous theories have been put forward to

evaluate the pressures exerted on silo walls. However, many features of their calculation have

not yet been accurately described, leading to design faults in this type of structure all over the

world, with the consequent economic and human losses.

In Spain there is currently no specific legislation which regulates the calculation and design

of silos. At the European level, silos are considered under the European standards (Eurocode

1, Part IV. Actions in silos and tanks)1, based on the JANSSEN2 equation (1895) with no

proposed method of calculation in the case of an eccentric outlet. The guidelines include a

brief mention that eccentricity should not exceed 25% of the silo diameter and that in the

future, attempts will be made to cover large eccentricities.

which consider overpressures due to eccentric discharge. These models are based on the

calculation of pressures produced in a centered static state, and correct for the eccentricity of

outflow and subsequently incorporate increment coefficients in a discharge state.

Several experimental studies have confirmed that the distribution and magnitude of

pressures undergo substantial change when the point of outflow is eccentric with respect to a

central outlet. Thus, given that this problem has not yet been resolved, the present research

was designed to determine and interpret the distribution of such pressures and their increase in

magnitude in response to changes in the eccentricity of the hopper. To this end, the

commercial ANSYS program3, based on the finite element method (FEM) was employed.

The effects of hopper eccentricity on wall pressures were evaluated by three dimensional

modeling and led to the proposal of a valid method for the simulation of grain-wall friction

and elements which serve to simulate silage material.

The analysis of static pressures in cylindrical silos with eccentric hoppers, rigid walls and

elasto-plastic4 behavior of the stored material was conducted using a silo of the following

dimensions:

- Hopper height: T = 2.5 m.

- Cylinder height: H = 8 m.

- Silo radius: R= 3 m.

- Width of silo-hopper junction with finest mesh to 2A = 1 m.

reduce the % energy error due to the mesh

2

A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

- Hopper eccentricity (%): EXCT = 0 % 100 %

- Angle formed between hopper elements , = variable

in the XZ plane and the horizontal. (according to hopper

eccentricity)

-Y (270)

EXC RT

R

H

Hs -X (180) +X (0)

2A

A +Y (90)

T

+Z

0

+X

LESF2

LESF1

LESFUNION

3

A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

SURFACE TO SURFACE friction was used in the friction simulation. For this purpose,

once the volumes represented by the stored material were generated and meshed, we selected

areas of the cylinder contour (areas of grain-wall friction) and generated parallel areas at a

distance of a tenth of a millimeter to simulate the wall of the silo (see Fig. 3).

Meshing of silo

Meshing of grain friction areas wall areas with

with CONTACT 173 element TARGET 170

element

S = 0,0001 m.

Next, the friction was meshed by selecting areas of the silo wall and meshing them with the

TARGET 170 element. Following this, we selected the areas of grain friction and meshed

them with the CONTACT 173 element, placing the nodes of the latter over the faces of the

SOLID 45 elements (stored granular material) in contact with the wall.

With regard to the contour conditions, the nodes at the bottom of the silo are selected and

fixed in the three spatial directions (see Fig. 4).

4

A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

In order to evaluate pressures produced in silos with different hopper eccentricities, three

lines of pressures were generated (LESF1, LESF2 and LESFUNION, see Fig. 2) and

horizontal and vertical pressures were analyzed by each of these.

LESF1 and LESF2: This involves the study of pressures in two cylinder opposite vertical

lines and its continuation with that corresponding to the hopper cone.

junction, since it is known that it is here where the greatest pressures are produced. As shown

in Figure 2, this drawing of the pressure covers the perimeter of the circumference of the silo-

hopper junction.

3 RESULTS

Figure 5 shows the curves of normal pressures acting on the hopper wall at the silo-hopper

junction for the different angles of internal friction considered, varying the eccentricity of the

hopper. This is also compared to elastic behavior in the same graph. It may be observed in

LESF1 that the pressures decrease as hopper eccentricity rises. These are greater when

considering elastic behavior than when elasto-plastic behavior is considered, except for an

eccentricity of 100%. On the side of LESF2, pressures increase with hopper eccentricity and

are greater for larger angles of internal friction. Elastic behavior exerted pressures

intermediate between elasto-plastic for internal friction angles of =28 and =25, with the

exception of the central hopper, in which actions at the silo-hopper junction are greater for

elastic behavior.

Table 1 shows the differences in normal pressures on the hopper wall at the silo-hopper

junction for the different eccentricities, taking the pressures for internal friction angles of 22

as 100%. The (+) and (-) signs indicate that the pressures are greater or lower than for =22

respectively.

5

A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

NORMAL PRESSURE ON HOPPER WALL AT THE TRANSITION TO THE HOPPER FOR LESF1 AND LESF2

Analysis of the effects of outlet eccentricity on static pressure distribution

70

P.n. on LESF1. INTERNAL FRICTION ANGLE = 22

60

P.n. on LESF1. INTERNAL FRICTION ANGLE = 28

NORMAL PRESSURE ON THE WALL (kPa

50 P.n. EN LESF1.ELASTIC

40

P.n. on LESF2. INTERNAL FRICTION ANGLE = 28

30 P.n. EN LESF2.ELASTIC

20

LESF2

LESF1

10

0

0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

Graphic 1

Figure 5.

ECCENTRICITY 0% 20 % 40 % 60 % 80 % 100

%

Differences in LESF1 from

+2.9 +0.81 +4.89 +3.66 - 0.887 - 2.774

= 25 to = 22

Differences in LESF1 from

+11.6 +6.89 +3.52 +3.76 - 3.509 - 6.546

= 28 to = 22

Differences in LESF1 from

+9.53 +8.12 +7.03 +6.36 - 2.76 - 6.378

= 30 to = 22

Differences in LESF1 from

+15.9 +19.9 +27.6 +26.8 +29.4 - 17.26

Elastic to = 22

Differences in LESF2 from

+2.9 - 4.163 +0.38 +6.77 +7.21 +8.82

= 25 to = 22

Differences in LESF2 from

+11.6 - 0.242 +8.74 +12.5 +12.2 +14.9

= 28 to = 22

Differences in LESF2 from

+9.53 +2.65 +11.8 +15.9 +15.1 +18.3

= 30 to = 22

Differences in LESF2 from

+15.9 - 1.838 +6.88 +10.8 +10.6 +11.3

Elastic to = 22

Table 1. Change in the % normal pressure at the hopper wall and at the silo-hopper junction for the different

angles of internal friction considered.

6

A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

4 CONCLUSIONS

Analysis was made of a series of variables involved in the static pressures generated in

agricultural silos with an eccentric hopper using the commercial ANSYS 5.5. program based

on the FEM. The most significant conclusions are summarized below.

According to the FEM, the pressure curves corresponding to the cylinder wall until the

silo-hopper junction is approached, follow the same tendency as calculation methods proposed

by existing standards, but are lower than those proposed by the Eurocode.

The FEM, in agreement with the Eurocode, situates greatest pressures at the silo-hopper

junction, unlike the French and DIN norms, according to which these correspond to inside the

hopper.

While in the Eurocode, static pressures are proposed when the hopper is centered and

considered to be valid up to an eccentricity limit of 0.25 times the diameter (eccentricity of

60% in our models), their redistribution at the hopper wall when this is eccentric may be

observed by means of the FEM, increasing on the opposite side to the outlet and decreasing on

the same side with respect to the central hopper. This leads us to conclude that a more

conservative method of calculation should be used in the Eurocode for normal pressures on

the hopper wall when centered, and coefficients drawn up to include the variations produced

in the static state when it is off-center.

According to the FEM, hopper eccentricity does not affect pressures on the cylinder wall

until areas close to the silo-hopper junction are approached. Maximum normal pressures on

the silo wall correspond to the silo-hopper junction, on the opposite side to the displacement

of the outlet for any eccentricity, increasing at this point as hopper eccentricity rises.

According to the FEM, the K factor is not constant throughout the silo, unlike the case

described in the Eurocode, in which it is subject to a variation in height for the same

eccentricity and a further variation according to the eccentricity of the hopper, for different

eccentricities.

In the wall zone opposite the shift in the outlet (important in design since it is here where

the greatest pressures are found) the K factor obtained via the FEM decreases, both in the

cylinder wall and along the length of the hopper wall, as eccentricity increases, with an

inverted effect at the silo-hopper junction, each time differing more from the values proposed

by the Eurocode. At the same time, the values assumed by factor K along the silo wall are

lower than those of the Eurocode, with the exception of an area of the hopper wall close to the

outlet when centered.

7

A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

The areas subject to plastification inside the silo diminish as the internal angle of friction of

the stored material increases. Thus, for a 30 angle, plastic areas are reduced to a very small

zone in the proximity of the silo-hopper junction. As the eccentricity of the outlet rises, the

area of plastification becomes concentrated on the opposite side to its displacement and

decreases on the side of advance. Thus, for hopper eccentricities of 80% and 100%, the

plastic area that was located close to the silo-hopper junction on the displacement side of the

hopper disappears.

Normal pressures on the wall according to the FEM, both at the cylinder wall and the

hopper, increase as the internal friction angle of the stored material decreases. However, at

the silo-hopper junction and proximity this tendency is inverted.

On the side of displacement of the hopper, pressures, for the same internal friction angle,

decrease as hopper eccentricity rises. For elastic behavior the pressure peak for all

eccentricities is found at the silo-hopper junction. However, considering the elasto-plastic

criterion and for intermediate eccentricities, maximum lateral pressures on the walls are found

within the hopper wall, leading to an increase in pressures in the first stretch of the hopper

wall, unlike elastic in which a marked decrease is recorded.

On the opposite side to the displacement of the hopper, pressures increase as its

eccentricity rises for a given internal friction angle. However, while for elastic behavior

maximum pressures are found at the silo-hopper junction, a marked decrease of 2.5 m. to 2 m

in height was observed for all the eccentricities analyzed. For the elasto-plastic behavior and

as the internal friction angle falls, this initial decrease is ever less until it becomes inverted for

an angle of 22. In this case an initial increase in pressures is produced as we start to survey

the hopper.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

The authors are grateful to the CICYT (Spanish Research and Technology Commission)

for funding this project (AGF97-1141).

REFERENCES:

[1] ENV 1991-4. Eurocode 1 : Basis of design and actions on structures. Part 4 : Actions on

silos and tanks.

loads in silo cells] . Zeischrift des Verein Deutscher Ingenieure. 39, 1045-1049

8

A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

[3] ANSYS User's Manuals for Revision 5.3 (1998). Vol. I, II, III, IV and V. Swanson

Analysis Systems, Inc. Houston (USA).

[4] Drucker, D.C.; Prager,W. (1952). Soil mechanics and plastic analysis on limit design.

Quart. Appl. Math. 10 (2), 157-165.

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