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Packings of micron-sized spherical particles - Insights from bulk density determination, X-ray microtomography and discrete element simulations

: Schmidt, J.; Parteli, E.J.R.; Uhlmann, N.; Wörlein, N.; Wirth, K.-E.; Pöschel, T.; Peukert, W.


Advanced powder technology 31 (2020), No.6, pp.2293-2304
ISSN: 0921-8831
ISSN: 1568-5527
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IIS ()

The quantitative description of packing behaviour of particulate systems under consideration of realistic particle size distributions and material properties poses one challenging problem in powder technology, with impacts on a broad range of technological areas. Here we investigate the packing characteristics of micrometer to millimeter-sized, polydisperse spherical particle systems of glass, zirconia and copper by means of experimental measurements of the bulk density, X-ray microtomography (CT) and numerical simulations of the granular packings using a 3d discrete element method (DEM). The applied DEM method takes realistic material properties into account and considers the experimentally obtained particle size distributions as well as attractive inter-particle forces including adhesion (Johnson, Kendall, Roberts (JKR)) and non-bonded van der Waals (vdW) interactions. Good agreement of the packing densities predicted by DEM and observed in the experiments (bulk density determination & CT) is found. Moreover, we show that a simple mathematical expression for the packing fraction as a function of average particle size of the polydisperse powder system describes well our experimental and simulation results for all investigated materials, with only two fitting parameters. From the DEM simulations, the mean (first) coordination number in the respective polydisperse packing is extracted and discussed with respect to the experimentally obtained direct neighborhood detection from X-ray tomography and in context of previous works. The mean coordination number shows a rather broad variance due to the polydispersity of the samples considered. It also shows a remarkable dependency on the definition of particle contact. Therefore, caution is advised when evaluating coordination numbers with this quantity being highly dependent on the instrumental resolution.