Potential of DEM for investigation of non-consolidated flow of cohesive and elongated biomass particles
The evaluation of the flow properties of biomass powders is essential for the design of handling systems within a thermochemical valorization context. The Discrete Element Method (DEM) is a valuable tool for simulating the bulk behavior of granular materials that has rarely been used for biomass feedstocks. This work focuses on the numerical investigation of the flow of raw and torrefied biomass particles in a loose and dynamic conditioning using a rotating drum. The relevance of DEM parameters calibrated using bulk experiments (angle-of-repose, bulk density, retainment ratio) is tested by comparison with experimental data obtained using a rotating drum system. The calibrated DEM material model considers the elongated, submillimetric and cohesive nature of the biomass powder. Several flowability descriptors (Upper Angle of Stability, size of avalanches, fraction of revolution to trigger events and irregularity of the free surface) are evaluated using both experimental data and DEM simulations. DEM results reproduced well the experimental trends and distinguished between the different cohesive extent of the samples. DEM is therefore a relevant technique for assessing flowability of biomass powders in a non-consolidated dynamic flow. This paves the way for investigating the effects of particle characteristics on bulk flow, which are briefly discussed.
Keywords: Woody biomass powder, DEM parameter calibration, Flowability, Avalanching, Multisphere approach, Coarse-graining, Particle shape, Rotating drum