Effective use of DEM to design chain conveyor geometry
Traditionally, chain conveyors with classic structural carriers are used to transport bulk materials. The research topic of the study was how various geometric carrier shapes could affect, for example, transportation efficiency, wear or the action of forces. For this purpose, 53 alternative geometric shapes were designed and simulated in DEM. The efficiency of the geometric shapes was calculated in terms of the material transport speed, the acting compressive forces, the particulate velocities around the carriers, the wear of the carrier surface, and the resistances in carrier movement. The input parameters of the DEM model of the bulk material and conveyor were experimentally verified by the angle of repose and the validation device of the chain conveyor. Deviations of the DEM validation of material and processes in the conveyor fell in the range 0.29-3.17%. The effect of compressive forces acting on carrier I, II and V was also investigated to determine the efficiency of the processes. Because of the large number of simulations, we designed an optimal simplified model, which was validated with a 2% difference from the original and more computationally demanding model. Based on all the (measured and simulated) values, we determined the optimal design of the carriers by examining the overall efficiency. We found four alternative carrier shapes for the effective area. The article provides a comprehensive overview of the modern methods of analysis and subsequent optimization of contact geometrical surfaces for the purpose of creating prototypes with low economic requirements.