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Rotary calciners simulation using Rocky DEM heat transfer models

Heat transfer in particulate materials is a key phenomenon in a variety of industrial applications. Very often material is handled and stored in granular form and is need to be heated or cooled for a given process. Rotary calciners are a common mixing device in metallurgical and catalyst industries. In general lines, they are long rotating drums with or without internal baffles.

Their walls are heated and then the particles within them are heated and dried due to the heat transferred by conduction between the walls and the particles.

Since Rocky DEM software explicitly considers inter-particle and particle-to-boundary interactions, and in the 3.10 release included heat exchange, Rocky is a useful tool for studying heat transfer in granular materials in rotary calciners, helping engineers to design and optimize these equipments.

In the videos below, the particles and vessel temperatures are initially at 298K. Then, the curved wall is quickly heated up to 1298K and the evolution of the particles’ temperature is monitored over time. In the first video, the drum does not rotate while in the second video, the drum rotates at 30 RPM.

Video 1 – Heat conduction within a stationary drum

Video 2 – Heat conduction within a rotating drum

Videos 1 and 2 show the influence of the drum speed on the averaged bed temperature, demonstrating that higher speed vessels lead to faster thermal uniformity.

 Figure 1 – Temperature evolution for different rotational speeds

The graph in Figure 1 shows that higher speed rotations results in higher average bed temperatures.

Figure 2 – Drum views in Rocky showing how rotational speed affects particle temperature over time

The drum view matrix in Figure 2 demonstrates that regions with cold particles (dark blue) shrink faster for higher speed drums.

Using Rocky, the DEM evaluation of different geometries and operating conditions can be made quickly.

Moreover, the Rocky-Fluent coupling capabilities enables users to account for the heat transfer between fluids and particles, enlarging the range of processes that can be modeled using DEM.


Lucilla Almeida

CAE Specialist at ESSS, D.Sc.

Lucilla holds a BE (Chemical) undergraduate degree, an M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Nuclear engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She joined ESSS in 2008 and has spent 5 years focused on applying CFD to solve common engineering problems in the Oil and Gas industry, dealing with turbulent and multiphase flow simulations. Since 2013, she is an Application Engineer for Rocky DEM Business Unit, supporting users, working on consultancy projects and validating models implemented for the CFD-DEM coupling.

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