Date of Award

Fall 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Committee for the Interdisciplinary Program in Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Rajesh N. Dave

Second Advisor

Ecevit Atalay Bilgili

Third Advisor

Edward L. Dreyzin

Fourth Advisor

N. M. Ravindra

Fifth Advisor

Xiaoyang Xu


Particulate materials play an increasingly significant role in various industries, such as pharmaceutical manufacturing, food, mining, and civil engineering. The objective of this research is to better understand bulk behaviors of particulate materials from particle scale simulations.

Packing properties of assembly of particles are investigated first, focusing on the effects of particle size, surface energy, and aspect ratio on the coordination number, porosity, and packing structures. The simulation results show that particle sizes, surface energy, and aspect ratio all influence the porosity of packing to various degrees. The heterogeneous force networks within particle assembly under external compressive loading are investigated as well. The results show that coarse-coarse contacts dominate the strong network and coarse-fine contacts dominate the total network. Next, DEM models are developed to simulate the particle dynamics inside a conical screen mill (comil) and magnetically assisted impaction mixer (MAIM), both are important particle processing devices. For comil, the mean residence time (MRT), spatial distribution of particles, along with the collision dynamics between particles as well as particle and vessel geometries are examined as a function of the various operating parameters such as impeller speed, screen hole size, open area, and feed rate. The simulation results can help better understand dry coating experimental results using comil. For MAIM system, the magnetic force is incorporated into the contact model, allowing to describe the interactions between magnets. The simulation results reveal the connections between homogeneity of mixture and particle scale variables such as size of magnets and surface energy of non-magnets. In particular, at the fixed mass ratio of magnets to non-magnets and surface energy the smaller magnets lead to better homogeneity of mixing, which is in good agreement with previously published experimental results. Last but not least, numerical simulations, along with theoretical analysis, are performed to investigate the interparticle force of dry coated particles. A model is derived and can be used to predict the probabilities of hose-host (HH), host-guest (HG), and guest-guest (GG) contacts. The results indicate that there are three different regions dominated by HH, HG, and GG contacts, respectively. Moreover, the critical SAC for the transition of HG to GG contacts is lower than previously estimated value.

In summary, particle packing, particle dynamics associated with various particle processing devices, and interparticle force of dry coated particles are investigated in this thesis. The results show that particle scale information such as coordination number, collision dynamics, and contact force between particles from simulation results can help better understand bulk properties of assembly of individual particles.