Experimental investigation into segregating granular flows down chutes

Sébastien Wiederseiner, Nicolas Andreini, Gaël Épely-Chauvin, Gaudenz Moser, Mathieu Monnereau, J. M N T Gray, Christophe Ancey

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    We experimentally investigated how a binary granular mixture made up of spherical glass beads (size ratio of 2) behaved when flowing down a chute. Initially, the mixture was normally graded, with all the small particles on top of the coarse grains. Segregation led to a grading inversion, in which the smallest particles percolated to the bottom of the flow, while the largest rose toward the top. Because of diffusive remixing, there was no sharp separation between the small-particle and large-particle layers, but a continuous transition. Processing images taken at the sidewall, we were able to measure the evolution of the concentration and velocity profiles. These experimental profiles were used to test a recent theory developed by Gray and Chugunov [J. Fluid Mech.569, 365 (2006)], who derived a nonlinear advection diffusion equation that describes segregation and remixing in dense granular flows of binary mixtures. We found that this theory was able to provide a consistent description of the segregation/remixing process under steady uniform flow conditions. To obtain the correct depth-averaged concentration far downstream, it was very important to use an accurate approximation to the downstream velocity profile through the avalanche depth. The S-shaped concentration profile in the far field provided a useful way of determining what we refer to as the Péclet number for segregation, a dimensionless number that quantifies how large the segregation is compared to diffusive remixing. While the theory was able to closely match the final fully developed concentration profile far downstream, there were some discrepancies in the inversion region (i.e., the region in which the mixing occurs). The reasons for this are not clear. The difficulty to set up the experiment with both well controlled initial conditions and a steady uniform bulk flow field is one of the most plausible explanations. Another interesting lead is that the flux of segregating particles, which was assumed to be a quadratic function of the concentration in small beads, takes a more complicated form. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number013301
    JournalPhysics of Fluids
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2011


    • Granular flow
    • Granular Flow: mixing, segregation and stratification
    • Flow visualization and imaging
    • Ordinary differential equations


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