A linear stability analysis is performed for the homogeneous state of a monodisperse gas-fluidized bed of spherical particles undergoing hydrodynamic interactions and solid-body collisions at small particle Reynolds number and finite Stokes number. A prerequisite for the stability analysis is the determination of the particle velocity variance which controls the particle-phase pressure. In the absence of an imposed shear, this velocity variance arises solely due to the hydrodynamic interactions among the particles. Since the uniform state of these suspensions is unstable over a wide range of values of particle volume fraction φ and Stokes number St, full dynamic simulations cannot be used in general to characterize the properties of the homogeneous state. Instead, we use an asymptotic analysis for large Stokes numbers together with numerical simulations of the hydrodynamic interactions among particles with specified velocities to determine the hydrodynamic sources and sinks of particle-phase energy. In this limit, the velocity distribution to leading order is Maxwellian and therefore standard kinetic theories for granular/hard-sphere molecular systems can be used to predict the particle-phase pressure and rheology of the bed once the velocity variance of the particles is determined. The analysis is then extended to moderately large Stokes numbers for which the anisotropy of the velocity distribution is considerable by using a kinetic theory which combines the theoretical analysis of Koch (1990) for dilute suspensions (φ [Lt ] 1) with numerical simulation results for non-dilute suspensions at large Stokes numbers. A linear stability analysis of the resulting equations of motion provides the first a priori predictions of the marginal stability limits for the homogeneous state of a gas-fluidized bed. Dynamical simulations following the detailed motions of the particles in small periodic unit cells confirm the theoretical predictions for the particle velocity variance. Simulations using larger unit cells exhibit an inhomogeneous structure consistent with the predicted instability of the homogeneous gas–solid suspension.
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