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Simulation insights for engineers: modeling fluid-particulate applications across multiple industries

Our Simulation Insights for Engineers series shows the many ways Rocky DEM helps engineers and product designers. In this blog post, we highlight how Rocky DEM-CFD coupling capabilities can model the simultaneous flow of fluids and particles in different industrial equipment and processes.

Particles are everywhere—and to design products effectively, engineers need to understand how particles interact with each other, the equipment and fluids (liquids and gasses) in the case of particle-fluid systems. These applications use CFD-DEM methodologies to help design and analyze physics-based simulations and perform virtual experiments, conducting “what-if” scenarios that save time and costs and accelerate time to market.

Did you know that Rocky coupled with Ansys Fluent is used in dozens of industries in many applications that include particulate systems for solids and fluids handling? Keep reading to explore the benefits of modeling these flow-driven, fluid-solid situations, and we’ll highlight examples from a few industries that use the unique capabilities of Rocky-Fluent coupling.

Pharmaceutical and medical applications

Tablet coating: Ansys Fluent and Rocky are used to simulate tablet coating processes. Rocky can precisely represent shapes, including custom convex and concave shapes, and can compute the fluid forces on the particles. Adhesive/cohesive materials can be modeled to determine coating homogeneity.

Study of a drying process in a tablet coater using Rocky DEM fully coupled with Ansys Fluent.

Asthma inhaler : Understanding how dry powder medications   are activated  in an asthma inhaler and then move through the human airway is complex, but insight is needed to deliver the right dose to the patient. With a Rocky DEM – Ansys Fluent coupling, engineers can model how particles are transported and deposited in a human airway, as seen in the video below. This is a non-invasive and less expensive way to discover how to deliver medication better and more safely and efficiently. 

Fine particles in human airway simulation using Rocky DEM.

Agriculture applications

Wheat cleaning: Poor circulation of air-particle flows and challenging design factors can reduce the performance of wheat cleaning equipment. CFD-DEM coupling can simulate the wheat cleaning process to predict the real-world behavior of wheat and chaff particles, allowing engineers to design for improved machine performance. For more technical details, see this blog post.

Home appliance applications

Vacuum cleaner design: Vacuum cleaners are designed to catch many different types of particles with different shapes and properties. Rocky and Ansys Fluent can model the flow of particles, such as pet hair strands, using 1-way DEM-CFD coupling simulation that depicts flexibility and inter-fiber interaction. Rocky’s fiber modeling capability allows for flexible or rigid fibers as well as custom fiber shapes.

Rocky DEM and Ansys Fluent coupled simulation of a large number of pet hair strands inside a vacuum cleaner, depicting behaviors such as flexibility and inter-fiber interaction.

CFD-DEM coupling can also be used to model how debris is picked up from a carpet using a vacuum roller. In the example below, vacuum cleaner roller bristles are modeled with Rocky and Ansys Fluent, using custom injections and fiber particles with frozen elements.

In this vacuum cleaner simulation, Rocky DEM and Ansys CFD integration is used to model debris pick up on a carpet.

Oil and gas applications

Pipelines: In many oil and gas applications, sand particles are mixing with the transporting fluids. Sediments can cause pipe wear, through both particle-wall impact and through rolling friction along the pipe walls. Simulation with Rocky DEM and Ansys Fluent can show the pipe zones with the highest sediment impact, shear, and recirculation. Velocity and wear magnitude can be determined, as seen in the video below.

Erosion in a pipe bend caused by sediments simulated using Rocky DEM and ANSYS Fluent coupling.

Rocky DEM coupled with Ansys Fluent can empower companies across multiple industries to get products to market faster and more efficiently by providing key insights and information. Contact us today to see how Rocky can improve your processes and equipment design.

Leveraging CFD-DEM simulations to improve solids process operations webinar


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