Enhancing the physical modeling capability of open-source MFIX-DEM software for handling particle size polydispersity: Implementation and validation

Shaohua Chen, Manogna Adepu, Heather Emady, Yang Jiao, Aytekin Gel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Multiphase flows are ubiquitous in many industrial processes. The inherent coupling of different phases poses many unique challenges in predicting and effectively controlling these processes. Hence, computational modeling and simulation offers a viable approach to overcome these challenges. In this study, we present recent development efforts for enhancing the physical modeling capabilities of an open-source computational modeling tool for real life industrial multiphase processes by enabling particle-size polydispersity and demonstrating with an associated validation study. The proposed implementation was performed in MFIX open-source framework due to its unique feature of tightly integrated computational fluid dynamics and discrete element method solvers for simulating coupled continuum fluid and granular flows. We have implemented the polydispersity feature in a minimally invasive way and provided means to allow easy specification of an arbitrary particle size distribution function, which also enables the user to easily handle an arbitrary number of solid phases, each possessing a distinct arbitrary particle-size distribution. To establish the credibility of improvements, we have carried out a preliminary verification and validation (V&V) study for the polydispersity feature by employing a hopper bin discharge problem, which is frequently encountered in industrial applications. Specifically, two types of micro-glass beads with distinct size distributions are used to fill the hopper in two possible packing arrangements, i.e., well-mixed and layered configurations, with varying mass (particle number) ratios. The experimentally obtained discharge dynamics (e.g., normalized discharge mass fraction for one of the phases versus the overall discharge mass fraction) for different systems is found to be in excellent agreement with the corresponding simulation results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-125
Number of pages9
JournalPowder Technology
StatePublished - Jul 15 2017


  • Discharge hopper
  • Discrete element method (DEM)
  • Granular flow
  • Open-source modeling and simulation
  • Polydisperse particles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering


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