Numerical modelling of the separation of complex shaped particles in an optical belt sorter using a DEM-CFD approach and comparison with experiments
Numerical and experimental investigation of transport and separation of complex shaped particles in an optical belt sorter using a DEM-CFD approach and comparison with experiments
In the growing field of bulk solids handling, automated optical sorting systems are of increasing importance. However, the initial sorter calibration is still very time consuming and the precise optical sorting of many materials still remains challenging. In order to investigate the impact of different operating parameters on the sorting quality, a numerical model of an existing modular optical belt sorter is presented in this study. The sorter and particle interaction is described with the Discrete Element Method (DEM) while the air nozzles required for deflecting undesired material fractions are modelled with Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD). The correct representation of the resulting particle-fluid interaction is realized through a one-way coupling of the DEM with CFD. Complex shaped particle clusters are employed to model peppercorns also used in experimental investigations. To test the correct implementation of the utilized models, the particle mass flow within the sorter is compared between experiment and simulation. The particle separation results of the developed numerical model of the optical sorting system are compared with matching experimental investigations. The findings show that the numerical model is able to predict the sorting quality of the optical sorting system with reasonable accuracy.