Rectangular silos; Interaction of structure and stored bulk solid
The main aim of this research is directed towards the study of thin-walled rectangular planform silos with a view to maximising their structural efficiency. In thin plates of the type making up the wall, membrane action may increase the load carrying capability and current design guides make no account of this. Designing rectangular silos with this in mind can lead to significant structural savings. The core of the research involves using the finite element method to study the patterns of pressure exerted by the weight of a granular bulk solid on the walls of the silo structure. The stored granular solid must use an elastic-plastic material law in order to account for large deformations that can occur in a thin-walled structure. The need for this type of constitutive law led to the investigation of bulk solid properties and shows that parameters that have previously been used to categorise bulk solids may not be sufficient to describe all aspects of their behaviour. The finite element model created uses material constitutive laws that can be found in a number of packages. The required granular material parameters can be determined from a number of simple tests. This approach aims to enable engineers to routinely use similar models when designing silos. The results obtained from the finite element model exhibited some anomalies that had been observed in previous work. These were mainly apparent in the form of localised pressure peaks near the base of the model. These effects were investigated and possible mechanisms that lead to them were proposed. The results from the finite element model were compared to previous experimental work and existing theories. The model was then used to conduct parametric surveys on square and rectangular planform silos and the distribution of pressure across the wall compared to previous predictive models. Finally, a scale thin-walled metal silo was constructed and pressure measurements on filling with pea gravel made. These are compared to predictions made by the finite element model.