Enhanced flow rate by the concentration mechanism of Tetris particles when discharged from a hopper with an obstacle

Guo-Jie Jason Gao, Fu-Ling Yang, Michael Holcomb, Jerzy Blawzdziewicz

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1 Scopus citations


We apply a holistic two-dimensional (2D) Tetris-like model, where particles move based on prescribed rules, to investigate the flow rate enhancement from a hopper. This phenomenon was originally reported in the literature as a feature of placing an obstacle at an optimal location near the exit of a hopper discharging athermal granular particles under gravity. We find that this phenomenon is limited to a system of sufficiently many particles. In addition to the waiting room effect, another mechanism able to explain and create the flow rate enhancement is the concentration mechanism of particles on their way to reaching the hopper exit after passing the obstacle. We elucidate the concentration mechanism by decomposing the flow rate into its constituent variables: the local area packing fraction φlE and the averaged particle velocity vyE at the hopper exit. In comparison to the case without an obstacle, our results show that an optimally placed obstacle can create a net flow rate enhancement of relatively weakly driven particles, caused by the exit-bottleneck coupling if φlE>φoc, where φoc is a characteristic area packing fraction marking a transition from fast to slow flow regimes of Tetris particles. Utilizing the concentration mechanism by artificially guiding particles into the central sparse space under the obstacle or narrowing the hopper exit angle under the obstacle, we can create a manmade flow rate peak of relatively strongly driven particles that initially exhibit no flow rate peak. Additionally, the enhanced flow rate can be maximized by an optimal obstacle shape, particle acceleration rate toward the hopper exit, or exit geometry of the hopper.

Original languageEnglish
Article number062904
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


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