Model of heating and ignition of conductive polydisperse powder in electrostatic discharge
Heating of a conductive polydisperse powder by electrostatic discharge (ESD) is modelled numerically. Powder packing is described using a discrete element model; powder resistance is defined by geometry of particle contacts and properties of plasma produced by electrical breakdown between neighbour particles. A set of parametric calculations in combination with experimental data is used to determine necessary adjustable model parameters. The model predicts the temperature for each powder particle resulting from its heating by the ESD current. Location and packing of individual particles within the powder affects greatly their achieved temperatures and thus the likelihood of ignition. Consistently with experiments, a trend showing that smaller particles are generally heated to higher temperatures at a given ESD energy is detected for coarser powders; this trend becomes less clear for finer powders with particle sizes less than the breakdown distance given by the Paschen curve in air. Comparison of the experimental data and calculations suggests that the transition from single particle to cloud combustion occurs when the distance between the particles ignited by ESD becomes close to the flame size for the individual burning particle. This distance, inversely proportional to the number of ignited particles, is primarily determined by the ESD energy.
Keywords: ESD, Powder Conductivity, DEM, micro-discharges, Joule heating