Expanded flow bins

(not verified)
Posted in: , on 7. Mar. 2003 - 05:40

In a recent coal handling project we designed bins(+-500t,8m dia) as expanded flow type bins ie a mass flow cone under a funnel flow type bin.

Mass flow theory indicates that the transition dimension between the mass flow cone and the bin should be sufficient to prevent rathole formation. Flow property test indicated required dimensions of several meters ie 7-10m dia even under reduced effective head. The dimension selected ( after consultation) was closer to 5m. It seems to me expanded flow bins and Jenike type flow property tests are incompatible. The tests often indicate

larger transitions dimensions than practically achievable.

Would anybody care to comment.

Also what lining considerations should be given to the upper section of an expanded flow type bin

Re: Expanded Flow Bins

Posted on 7. Mar. 2003 - 09:01

I would be interested to know why you chose to use an expanded flow bin with coal - bearing in mind the need for first-in, first-out with such a material (assuming that you will not be draining the silo during its operation). If (as is commonly the case) your motivation was to obtain maximum storage capacity combined with reliable gravity discharge, would not a plane flow transition silo with dual outlets feeding towards a central outlet have been more appropriate? You would then have had no "dead regions" during operation and consequently minimise the risk of self heating.

Experience shows that many plants have expanded flow silos installed in the belief that the mass flow "feed section" bestows first-in, first out operation on the entire silo. The frequency with which problems with caking and contamination issues arise shows this assertion to be incorrect where plant operation is continuous and not batch orientated (i.e. draining down the upper silo section regularly).

With regards to the lining material for use in the upper section of your silo (bearing in mind that the material will not be flowing against the wall in any condition other than draining) this will not be as critical as that for the mass flow lower section, but it would be beneficial if a surface that will not degrade with time is used.


Richard Farnish

The Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology, Univ.Greenwich, London, UK


Expanded Flow Bins

Posted on 7. Mar. 2003 - 03:04

The first interesting point is whether the 5 Meter transition was adquate to prevent ratholes forming in the non-mass flow section. The sensitivity of rathole size to product condition, particularly with something like damp fine coal, necessitates that the Jenike predictions are somewhat conservative, but practical results are the ultimate proving ground. Obviously, if the size of flow channel to prevent the formation of a stable rathole is very large, it may not be practical to incorporate this dimension in a bin of limited diameter. Nevertheless, expanded flow bins are often a sound and practical appraoch to many industrial storage duties. Taking Richards point though, it is vital that time consolidation effects be taken into account for the product that will be subjected to an indefinite storage period in an expanded flow bin.

As regards the contact surface for a non-mass flow section of bin the only requirement is that the material will self-clear to an adequate degree of cleanliness when the bin ultimately empties. Wall slip will not nrmally take place, as the repose conditions of the surface level progressively exposes the wall as the material drains away. When a large diameter transition is present, shallow residual layers of materal resting on the walls may slide down when the upper contents are neaxly exhausted, but the sliding velocity and contact pressure are low, so wear is not ofetn a consideration.

There are considerable structual advantages in round bins and conical hoppers, so it is understandable that these shapes are desirable for large storage facilities. Cones, however, have poor flow characteristics compared with Vee hoppers and the many variants now utilised in smaller commercial bins. Also, inserts of various types are used to secure mass flow at lower wall angles and can be adopted to secure wall slip in an outer shape similar to an expanded flow construction.

Brian Moore
(not verified)

Re: Expanded Flow Bins

Posted on 9. Mar. 2003 - 06:04

I would offer the following comments.

Frequently, expanded flow bins (particularly for black coal) are most appropriate for capacities in the 1500 - 4000 tonne capacity, where the features and advantages of funnel flow containers, are combined with the operational advantages of mass flow hoppers. A storage bin of 500t is quite small relatively, and best designed as mass flow complete.

Secondly care is required with the wall material, and slope of the expanded flow section, to achieve a self cleaning action on emptying of the funnel flow bin, and yet ensure no slip/stick action on discharge. There are several instances of what is known as silo quaking, where a ratcheting material flow occurs in the expanded flow portion as well as complete flow in the mass flow portion. There are several published reports of silo quaking, however, from the viewpoint of design guidelines there is minimal advice.

Expanded Flow And Quaking

Posted on 10. Mar. 2003 - 11:35

Brian Moore's useful comments highlights the need to ensure ultimate clearance of product from an expanded flow type hopper. Damp coal can form strong adhesive bond to mild steel due to the formation of crystal bridges. High density polyethene liners offer good resistance to such caking bonds and, as slip is only required for the shallow clearing layer in the non-mass flow section, it is not subjects to high contact pressure for wear.

Regarding silo quaking, this is normally only significant in relation to mass flow behaviour, but can be a serious problem due to the magnitude of the forces involved. There are various mechanisms that can give rise to this type of phenomenon, which involves intermittent movement of the main mass of the contents of a hopper, and may be caused by such as: -

1. A large difference between static and dynamic wall friction.

2. The different between static and dynamic internal friction, resulting in intermittent shear (similar to wall stick-slip) on the flow boundary of static product.

3. Cyclic switching between mass flow and non-mass flow in hoppers with wall inclinations that are marginal between the two positive conditions.

4. Backflow of gasses from pressurized delivery regions or air replacement of the displaced product that leads to systematic surging of the discharge

5. Low bulk permeability inhibiting the rate of failure of an arch by restraining atmospheric air entering the expanding voids behind the unconfined surface. Particles ‘rain’ from the arch until it exceeds the critical span and collapses to re-start the cycle. This process is termed ‘Slurping’

6. Unstable repose conditions, as may be developed under the cone of a bin activator.

7. Erratic or selective extraction by a feeder or discharge device forming voids that collapse when they exceed the critical arching span.

8. The collapse of dynamic arches. Waves of dilation progressing through the bed to reach a static stored mass at a cross section larger than the critical arching span, followed by elastic compaction as the bulk of the stored mass moves rapidly until brought suddenly to rest by the restricted rate of discharge.

9. A large velocity gradient in the flowing bed, enlarging a region of dilated bulk to an unsustainable level and/or elastically increasing stress on the boundary layers.

In all cases there is a region of void or reduced pressure that allows a rapid failure of the static supporting region. Redressing the consequences essentially requires that the flow area adequately motivates the total movement of the hopper contents. One way is to use a feeder that extracts progressively at a slow rate over a large cross section, such that the replenishment from the hopper contents is smooth and steady. Silo quaking is a problem that is difficult to predict and requires some expertise to address.

Dr M Bradley
(not verified)

Re: Expanded Flow Bins

Posted on 29. Apr. 2003 - 07:28

I would agree with regard to scale - 500 tonnes is small for expanded flow to be practical in my experience. I don't think I've ever seen it work properly below about 1000 tonnes capacity.

If you want a good, effective expanded flow design, for maximum storage in minimum headroom with best power to promote flow, geometry dictates the use of plane flow mass flow section(s) in line with each other to give a long rectangular inlet to the mass flow section, hence yielding a large maximum dimension of the outlet of the plant flow section - thus preventing ratholing. The only drawback can be structural complexity at the intersection.

Dr M Bradley
(not verified)

Re: Expanded Flow Bins

Posted on 29. Apr. 2003 - 07:30

Sorry, a slip of the fingers! The last sentence should have read "...a large maximum dimension to the outlet of the core flow section . . . ."!

Expanded Flow

Posted on 5. Jun. 2003 - 03:59

Dear Mr. Pjaynes

You describe well known problem. All insets and similar solution just don’t work.

In my carrier I have redesigned many of such problem-silos, many times after the people have tied to solve is with inserts or building a new come. All this solutions have not lead to success.

We use for such cases an oversized discharge equipment – THE SILETTA JUMBO-.

The biggest we have build is one for a discharge opening of 4.5 meter. Even by this oversized discharge equipment we don’t reach the mass flow. Probably it could be reached an funnel of a dimension of 5 a’ 6 meter. The silo can be emptied when the silo get completely discharged, because the ring formed column can not hold the high vertical stresses.


I draw your attention to our course “Quality Control and Powder technology” which will be hold mbegin of november at University of Delft - Netherlands . Such problems will be discussed on the course.

I hope to gave you enough information for the first moment.

Please send us your full address and we will send you some additional information.

Hope hear from you soon

Dr. Ivan Peschl