Revised partial coupling in fluid–particulate systems

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Fluid equations in Computational Fluid Dynamics coupled with Discrete Element Method (CFD-DEM) simulations solve the volume-averaged Navier–Stokes equations. Full coupling between the dispersed phase and continuous phase is made by the exchange of source terms as well as the void fraction. The void fraction is calculated from the presence of the particles in the computational fluid cells while the source terms are calculated from the point mass force models of the fluid–particle interaction forces. Dense particulate system with large spatiotemporal variations in the void fraction shows hard convergence behavior. This can impact the robustness of the solver during the time integration process. One option is to use partial coupling by neglecting the explicit effect of void fraction in the fluid momentum equations while retaining its effect on force models. Although the partial coupling is more stable and shows better convergence behavior, the mobility of the particles is found to be reduced as compared to the full-coupling approach. In the current work, we propose a revised partial coupling in which a modified fluid velocity is used in point mass force models to compensate for the omission of the void fraction in the fluid governing equations. The effectiveness of this method is demonstrated in a fluidized bed and in sediment transport simulations. In both cases it is shown that the use of the proposed method gives very good comparisons with the fully coupled simulations while reducing the fluid calculation time by factors ranging from 1.35 to 4.35 depending on the flow conditions. The revised partial coupling is not recommended as a substitute for full coupling in dense systems but as an alternate approach when full coupling leads to numerical difficulties.

CFD-DEM, fluid–particle coupling, fluidized beds, sediment transport, convergence and stability