Academic and research departmentsSchool of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
During twin screw granulation (TSG), small particles, which generally have irregular shapes, agglomerate together to form larger granules with improved properties. However, how particle shape impacts the conveying characteristics during TSG is not explored nor well understood. In this study, a graphic processor units (GPUs) enhanced discrete element method (DEM) is adopted to examine the effect of particle shape on the conveying characteristics in a full scale twin screw granulator for the first time. It is found that TSG with spherical particles has the smallest particle retention number, mean residence time, and power consumption; while for TSG with hexagonal prism (Hexp) shaped particles the largest particle retention number is obtained, and TSG with cubic particles requires the highest power consumption. Furthermore, spherical particles exhibit a flow pattern closer to an ideal plug flow, while cubic particles present a flow pattern approaching a perfect mixing. It is demonstrated that the GPU-enhanced DEM is capable of simulating the complex TSG process in a full-scale twin screw granulator with non-spherical particles.
Rotary tabletting presses are widely used to produce tablets in the pharmaceutical industry. In the tabletting process using a rotary press, rotary die filling is one of critical process steps, as powder behaviour during die filling dictates the quality of final products, such as dosage and weight variations. It is hence of importance to understand powder flow behaviour during rotary die filling. The purpose of this study is to identify the critical process parameters and material attributes that determine the die filling performance. For this purpose, a model rotary die filling system with a paddle feeder was constructed to mimic the powder feeding process in a typical rotary press. Using this model system, the effects of turret speed and paddle speed on die filling behaviour were investigated. Three grades of microcrystalline cellulose powders were considered. It was found that the turret speed has a more pivotal role in controlling the die filling performance than the paddle speed. In addition, it is demonstrated that powder flowability has a great impact on the fill weight variation, and a higher weight variation is induced for the powders with poorer flowability.
The presence of liquids in particulate materials can have a significant effect on their bulk behaviour during processing and handling. It is well recognised that the bulk behaviour of particulate materials is dominated by the interactions between particles. Therefore, a thorough understanding of particle-particle interaction with the presence of liquids is critical in unravelling complex mechanics and physics of wet particulate materials. In the current study, a discrete element method for wet particulate systems was developed, in which a contact model for interactions with pendular liquid bridges between particles of different sizes was implemented. In order to evaluate the accuracy and robustness of the developed DEM, normal elastic impacts of wet particles with a wall were systematically analysed. It was shown that the DEM simulations can accurately reproduce the experimental observations reported in the literature. In addition, the DEM analysis was also in good agreement with the elastohydrodynamic model. It was further demonstrated that the rebound behaviour of wet particles is dominated by the Stokes number. There was a critical Stokes number, below which the particle will stick with the wall. For impacts with a Stokes number higher than the critical Stokes number, the coefficient of restitution increases as the stokes number increases for elastic particles. It was also found that the contact angle and surface tension played an insignificant role in the normal impact of wet particles, while the viscosity of the liquid has a dominant effect on the rebound behaviour.