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Accurate Characterization of Particle Flowability

Stage: Development
INL researchers have developed new, cost effective methods and systems to accurately measure and control the flowability of bulk solids to address handling issues of heterogeneous materials.

Efficient and reliable flow of bulk solids is of significant importance to a wide range of industries. Unfortunately, variables such as density, particle size, and moisture content of many bulk solid feed streams cause problems for accurately controlling their flow as required for various process. Formation of bridges, crusts, rat holes, and funnels in bulk solids handling equipment are often experienced causing the inefficient and unreliable flow in conventional equipment. These issues often result in process downtime, and damage to equipment. They are often addressed by making expensive equipment upgrades or investing in oversized handling systems. New cost effective methods and systems to accurately measure and control the flowability of bulk solids are needed to address these materials handling issues.

Researchers at INL have developed a simple measurement tool for the efficient and reliable characterization of the flowability of bulk solids via all four key parameters: bulk density, particle friction (cohesion), compressibility and elasticity. While many rheological testing devices have been deployed to assess flow properties of bulk solids no tester to date can accurately measure the effect of all four parameters on flowability at the same time. The concept includes a test apparatus and procedure for testing that also mimics flow in a gravity hopper to give direct prediction of flow problems within hopper systems.

INL Technology ID: BA-873

Patent Publication: https://patents.google.com/patent/US9969553/

Applications and Industries

- Food

- Cellulosic biomass handling and conversion

- Biofuels

- Agriculture

- Mining

- Other applications where bulk solid feed streams are variable or uncontrolled


- Allows for thorough characterization of bulk solid flowability properties;

- Reduced capital expenditure in bulk solid handling equipment by designing “right size” systems;

- Cost effective;

- More versatile compared to conventional characterization methods.



Jan 7, 2020