Parallel implementation and application of particle scale heat transfer in the Discrete Element Method

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Virginia Tech


Dense fluid-particulate systems are widely encountered in the pharmaceutical, energy, environmental and chemical processing industries. Prediction of the heat transfer characteristics of these systems is challenging. Use of a high fidelity Discrete Element Method (DEM) for particle scale simulations coupled to Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) requires large simulation times and limits application to small particulate systems.  The overall goal of this research is to develop and implement parallelization techniques which can be applied to large systems with O(105- 106) particles to investigate particle scale heat transfer in rotary kiln and fluidized bed environments.

The strongly coupled CFD and DEM calculations are parallelized using the OpenMP paradigm which provides the flexibility needed for the multimodal parallelism encountered in fluid-particulate systems. The fluid calculation is parallelized using domain decomposition, whereas N-body decomposition is used for DEM. It is shown that OpenMP-CFD with the first touch policy, appropriate thread affinity and careful tuning scales as well as MPI up to 256 processors on a shared memory SGI Altix. To implement DEM in the OpenMP framework, ghost particle transfers between grid blocks, which consume a substantial amount of time in DEM, are eliminated by a suitable global mapping of the multi-block data structure. The global mapping together with enforcing perfect particle load balance across OpenMP threads results in computational times between 2-5 times faster than an equivalent MPI implementation.

Heat transfer studies are conducted in a rotary kiln as well as in a fluidized bed equipped with a single horizontal tube heat exchanger. Two cases, one with mono-disperse 2 mm particles rotating at 20 RPM and another with a poly-disperse distribution ranging from 1-2.8 mm and rotating at 1 RPM are investigated. It is shown that heat transfer to the mono-disperse 2 mm particles is dominated by convective heat transfer from the thermal boundary layer that forms on the heated surface of the kiln. In the second case, during the first 24 seconds, the heat transfer to the particles is dominated by conduction to the larger particles that settle at the bottom of the kiln. The results compare reasonably well with experiments. In the fluidized bed, the highly energetic transitional flow and thermal field in the vicinity of the tube surface and the limits placed on the grid size by the volume-averaged nature of the governing equations result in gross under prediction of the heat transfer coefficient at the tube surface. It is shown that the inclusion of a subgrid stress model and the application of a LES wall function (WMLES) at the tube surface improves the prediction to within ± 20% of the experimental measurements.



Computational fluid dynamics (CFD), Heat--Transmission, OpenMP, MPI, Hybrid parallelization, Performance tools, Multiphase flows