Discrete simulation of granular and particle-fluid flows: from fundamental study to engineering application

W Ge and LM Wang and J Xu and FG Chen and GZ Zhou and LQ Lu and Q Chang and JH Li, REVIEWS IN CHEMICAL ENGINEERING, 33, 551-623 (2017).

DOI: 10.1515/revce-2015-0079

Multiphase chemical reactors with characteristic multiscale structures are intrinsically discrete at the elemental scale. However, due to the lack of multiscale models and the limitation of computational capability, such reactors are traditionally treated as continua through straightforward averaging in engineering simulations or as completely discrete systems in theoretical studies. The continuum approach is advantageous in terms of the scale and speed of computation but does not always give good predictions, which is, in many cases, the strength of the discrete approach. On the other hand, however, the discrete approach is too computationally expensive for engineering applications. Developments in computing science and technologies and encouraging progress in multiscale modeling have enabled discrete simulations to be extended to engineering systems and represent a promising approach to virtual process engineering (VPE, or virtual reality in process engineering). In this review, we analyze this emerging trend and emphasize that multiscale discrete simulations (MSDS), that is, considering multiscale structures in discrete simulation through rational coarse-graining and coupling between discrete and continuum methods with the effect of mesoscale structures accounted in both cases, is an effective way forward, which can be complementary to the continuum approach that is being improved by multiscale modeling also. For this purpose, our review is not meant to be a complete summary to the literature on discrete simulation, but rather a demonstration of its feasibility for engineering applications. We therefore discuss the enabling methods and technologies for MSDS, taking granular and particle-fluid flows as typical examples in chemical engineering. We cover the spectrum of modeling, numerical methods, algorithms, software implementation and even hardware-software codesign. The structural consistency among these aspects is shown to be the pivot for the success of MSDS. We conclude that with these developments, MSDS could soon become, among others, a mainstream simulation approach in chemical engineering which enables VPE.

Return to Publications page