Numerical modelling of agglomerate degradation
In the processing industries particulate materials are often in the form of powders which themselves are agglomerations of much smaller sized particles. During powder processing operations agglomerate degradation occurs primarily as a result of collisions between agglomerates and between agglomerates and the process equipment. Due to the small size of the agglomerates and the very short duration of the collisions it is currently not possible to obtain sufficiently detailed quantitative information from real experiments to provide a sound theoretically based strategy for designing particles to prevent or guarantee breakage. However, with the aid of computer simulated experiments, the micro-examination of these short duration dynamic events is made possible. This thesis presents the results of computer simulated experiments on a 2D monodisperse agglomerate in which the algorithms used to model the particle-particle interactions have been derived from contact mechanics theories and, necessarily, incorporate contact adhesion. A detailed description of the theoretical background is included in the thesis. The results of the agglomerate impact simulations show three types of behaviour depending on whether the initial impact velocity is high, moderate or low. It is demonstrated that high velocity impacts produce extensive plastic deformation which leads to subsequent shattering of the agglomerate. At moderate impact velocities semi-brittle fracture is observed and there is a threshold velocity below which the agglomerate bounces off the wall with little or no visible damage. The micromechanical processes controlling these different types of behaviour are discussed and illustrated by computer graphics. Further work is reported to demonstrate the effect of impact velocity and bond strength on the damage produced. Empirical relationships between impact velocity, bond strength and damage are presented and their relevance to attrition and comminution is discussed. The particle size distribution curves resulting from the agglomerate impacts are also provided. Computer simulated diametrical compression tests on the same agglomerate have also been carried out. Simulations were performed for different platen velocities and different bond strengths. The results show that high platen velocities produce extensive plastic deformation and crushing. Low platen velocities produce semi-brittle failure in which cracks propagate from the platens inwards towards the centre of the agglomerate. The results are compared with the results of the agglomerate impact tests in terms of work input, applied velocity and damage produced.