Model Complex Particle Physics with Ease

December 1, 2022 Alex Lefebvre

What do Agriculture, Consumer Products, Food & Beverage, Heavy Equipment, Mining, and Pharmaceuticals have in Common?

Companies that manufacture small appliances, farm equipment, and other seemingly unrelated products often share a common challenge: the need to understand the flow behavior of bulk material with complex particle shapes and sizes. Whether making sure a vacuum cleaner works on both dirt and pet hair or minimizing the breakage caused by a hay bailer, the cost—in terms of time and money—of physical prototyping can be prohibitive. However, releasing a product before it has been thoroughly tested can cost a company its reputation. Ansys Rocky simulation software allows manufacturers to optimize designs virtually, saving time and money while improving the customer and employee experience.

Why Ansys Rocky Software?

Rocky can model complex particle physics in a way that wasn't feasible just a few years ago. Today, they are not only possible, but they run on regular laptops and have a short learning curve. Rocky is:

  • Versatile – Wide application range
  • Fast – Simulation time can be greatly reduced with GPU solver
  • Powerful – Can be coupled with Ansys FEA or CFD software
  • Intuitive – Much easier to learn than FEA or CFD software
  • Effective – Improves designs to get better products to market faster

Application Examples

Below are three examples showcasing just some of Ansys Rocky’s immense range of capabilities. We recommend that companies interested in simulating particle movement review them all, even though they might feature different industries. Watch this recorded 60-minute webinar for demonstrations and additional information.

Application: Transfer Chute
By simulating bulk material transfers from one conveyor belt to another or redirecting flow from a delivery point into a process or equipment, Rocky enables engineers to:

  • Import a 3D model of a transfer chute created with minimal CAD skills, apply material properties and motion
  • Define your particle shape, apply material properties and injection location
  • Run the simulation

Based on information gained from the simulations, engineers can easily test design changes to optimize the flow and reduce wear and tear on the machinery and prevent mass imbalance observed on the lower conveyor.

Jump to the video demonstration of this example

Application: Tablet Coater
By applying a thin layer of coating material to the surface of tablets, manufacturers mask unpleasant tastes and odors, prevent decomposition of drugs, improve swallowability, and much more. To simulate tablet coating in Rocky, simply:

  • Import a 3D model of a drum created with minimal CAD skills, apply material properties and motion
  • Define your particle shape, apply material properties, and initial location
  • Define coating jet location
  • Run the simulation

With clear, color-coded images, Rocky shows which particles are coated well, and which are not. You can then make design and process adjustments in areas such as rotation speed, drum shape, and spray angle to ensure all tables are coated appropriately.

Jump to the video demonstration of this example

Application: Bottling
Bottling without testing is risky, but physical experiments with bottling equipment are nearly impossible because of all the options, including bottle shapes and sizes, multiple conveyor belts moving at different speeds, and various curve angle possibilities on the machinery. With simulations that can take less than 30 minutes in Rocky, manufacturers can dramatically reduce the risk of a bottle falling and interrupting the whole assembly process. Simply:

  • Import a 3D model of the conveyor system created with minimal CAD skills, apply material properties and motion
  • Define your particle shape, apply material properties and injection location
  • Run the simulation

Then make design and process changes to:

  • Ensure the bottles end up in a single line
  • Prevent bottles from falling
  • Protect the bottles from breaking

Jump to the video demonstration of this example 

So Much More

The power of Rocky increases significantly when it is coupled with other Ansys software:

  • Ansys Fluent: Rocky can use computational fluid dynamics (CFD) data from Fluent to calculate the effect of fluids on the particles, and Fluent can use data from Rocky to calculate the particle effect on fluid flow. Typical examples of coupled Rocky and CFD simulations include fluidized bed modeling, advanced drying simulations, etc.
  • Ansys Mechanical: By coupling Rocky with Ansys Mechanical, a finite element analysis (FEA) software, Rocky can calculate the force on the structure and send the data to Ansys Mechanical, which can evaluate stresses, deformation, etc.  
  • Smoothed-Particle Hydrodynamics: When you are interested in a simpler model and don’t need software as powerful as Ansys Fluent, you can use SPF to perform simulations which combine a fluid and particles.

The Right Solutions for Your Business

It is important to work with an authorized Ansys service provider focused on your needs. Rand Simulation is that company. For example, we recently worked with a company that came to us with the goal of redesigning their dryer to shorten the drying time, which had been four hours. We coupled Rocky with Fluent, created a simulation using their existing design, and learned that the vast majority of the particles were drying in one hour; only a few at the probes were taking longer. Thanks to Rocky, a complex dryer redesign was ruled out and a simple process tweak was shown to speed up drying time up to 4x, far exceeding company goals with minimal budget outlay.

As experts in Ansys Rocky software, the Rand SIM team can help you understand the options, identify the best solution for your situation, train your employees on how to use the software, and provide ongoing support to answer questions that arise over time.

Ready to get the conversation started? Contact us today.


About the Author

Alex Lefebvre

CFD Simulation Specialist<br><br>Alex collaborates with clients to find solutions that meet their needs, whether it be new software, technical training, or consulting services. He completed his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Miami, with a focus on aircraft design. After the completion of his Ph.D., Alex worked in Formula 1 as a CFD expert where he helped the team produce a car that finished 5th in the world's championship.

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