Radial segregation of multi-component granular media in a rotating tumbler
Segregation and mixing of granular mixtures are important to the minerals, food processing and pharmaceuticals industry to name just a few. It has recently been demonstrated that a rotating tumbler is a suitable device for separating out binary granular mixtures, i.e. mixtures composed of only two different particle types. However, most practical granular mixtures are composed of multi-component particle types. We therefore study the capability of this rotating tumbler to segregate mixtures composed of more than two components where the particles differ either in size or density. The general pattern of segregation involves the formation of an inner core of smallest or densest particles followed, at larger radii, by the next largest or densest particle type and so-on in an onion-like pattern. In the mixtures where particles differ in size we always get relatively pure inner cores of the smallest particles, while the other regions are less segregated. On the other hand for mixtures whose particles differ in density we get a relatively pure outer region (adjacent to cylinder wall) consisting of the least dense particles while the other regions are less segregated. We attempt to relate the simulation results to phenomenological theory and find that size segregation in a specific multi-component mixture can be suitably described by a recent theoretical model.
Keywords: Radial segregation, Multi-component mixtures, Rotating tumbler, Discrete element method