Computational modeling of continuum scale constitutive equations to improve biomass feedstock material handling and conveying systems

Hojae Yi, Virendra M. Puri, Christopher J. Lanning, James H. Dooley

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Existing design practices for common feedstock handling equipment such as hoppers and screw feeders have not been successful in many situations. The lack of an appropriate toolset to characterize and model biomass flow behavior is deemed the root cause of plugging, stalls, and flow-related issues in biomass handling systems design and operations. New standardized characterization protocols in conjunction with appropriate constitutive models will lead to successful biomass handling system design and operations. This study investigates constitutive models for bulk solid flow based on the first principles to overcome issues in biomass handling. The focus is on two major issues in biomass handling, i.e., initiating and sustaining of flow in the hopper that is widely used in biomass conveying operation. Accordingly, this article focuses on analytical models of biomass hopper flow. Mohr-Coulomb, Drucker-Prager, and modified Cam-clay models are investigated as constitutive bulk solid flow models. Parameters of those models are determined using a set of triaxial tests. Triaxial tests are conducted using the cubical triaxial tester (CTT) in the Food and Biomaterials Lab of the Pennsylvania State University. Milled 1mm corn stover and 2mm wood chip biomass materials having different flow characteristics are examined, and their respective flow behavior out of a hopper are simulated using the Finite Element method implementing identified constitutive models and determined fundamental mechanical properties. It is found that, with the same hopper geometry, ground corn stover 1mm tends to exhibit funnel flow whereas ground Douglas fir 2 mm tends to exhibit mass flow. These simulation results are validated with hopper flow experiments. This study demonstrates how biomass flow problems can be predicted and mitigated by numerically modeled fundamental constitutive equations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Event2019 ASABE Annual International Meeting - Boston, United States
Duration: Jul 7 2019Jul 10 2019


Conference2019 ASABE Annual International Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Bioengineering


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