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Steady compressible flow of cohesionless granular materials through a wedge-shaped bunker

  • J. Ravi Prakash (a1) (a2) and K. Kesava Rao (a1)

Abstract

A continuum model based on the critical-state theory of soil mechanics is used to generate stress, density, and velocity profiles, and to compute discharge rates for the flow of granular material in a mass flow bunker. The bin–hopper transition region is idealized as a shock across which all the variables change discontinuously. Comparison with the work of Michalowski (1987) shows that his experimentally determined rupture layer lies between his prediction and that of the present theory. However, it resembles the former more closely. The conventional condition involving a traction-free surface at the hopper exit is abandoned in favour of an exit shock below which the material falls vertically with zero frictional stress. The basic equations, which are not classifiable under any of the standard types, require excessive computational time. This problem is alleviated by the introduction of the Mohr–Coulomb approximation (MCA). The stress, density, and velocity profiles obtained by integration of the MCA converge to asymptotic fields on moving down the hopper. Expressions for these fields are derived by a perturbation method. Computational difficulties are encountered for bunkers with wall angles θw [ges ] 15° these are overcome by altering the initial conditions. Predicted discharge rates lie significantly below the measured values of Nguyen et al. (1980), ranging from 38% at θw = 15° to 59% at θw = 32°. The poor prediction appears to be largely due to the exit condition used here. Paradoxically, incompressible discharge rates lie closer to the measured values. An approximate semi-analytical expression for the discharge rate is obtained, which predicts values within 9% of the exact (numerical) ones in the compressible case, and 11% in the incompressible case. The approximate analysis also suggests that inclusion of density variation decreases the discharge rate. This is borne out by the exact (numerical) results – for the parameter values investigated, the compressible discharge rate is about 10% lower than the incompressible value. A preliminary comparison of the predicted density profiles with the measurements of Fickie et al. (1989) shows that the material within the hopper dilates more strongly than predicted. Surprisingly, just below the exit slot, there is good agreement between theory and experiment.

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