Faculty Advisor

Mark Richman

Faculty Advisor

John Joseph Blandino

Faculty Advisor

Nikolaos A. Gatsonis

Faculty Advisor

David J. Olinger

Faculty Advisor

Jayant Khambekar


The purpose of this work is to study the effects of boundaries on granular flows down vibrating inclines, on segregation in granular mixtures induced by boundary vibrations, and on flows of granular mixtures through vibrating sieves. In each case, we employ techniques borrowed from the kinetic theory to derive an appropriate set of boundary conditions, and combine them with existing flow theories to calculate the profiles of solid volume fraction, mean velocity, and granular temperature throughout the flows. The boundaries vibrate with full three-dimensional anisotropy in a manner that can be related to their amplitudes, frequencies, and phase angles in three independent directions. At impenetrable surfaces (such as those on the inclines), the conditions derived ensure that momentum and energy are each balanced at the boundary. At penetrable surfaces (such as sieves), the conditions also ensure that mass is balanced at the boundary. In these cases, the momentum and energy balances also are modified to account for particle transport through the boundary. Particular interest in all the applications considered here is in how the details of the boundary geometry and the nature of its vibratory motion affect the resulting flows. In one case, we derive conditions that apply to a monosized granular material that interacts with a bumpy, vibrating, impenetrable boundary, and predict how such boundaries affect steady, fully developed unconfined inclined flows. Results indicate that the flows can be significantly enhanced by increasing the total energy of vibration and are more effectively enhanced by normal vibration than by tangential vibration. Regardless of the direction of vibration, the bumpiness of the boundary has a profound effect on the flows. In a second case, we derive conditions that apply to a binary granular mixture that interacts with a flat, vibrating, penetrable sieve-like boundary, and predict how such boundaries affect the process in which the particles pass through the sieve. In the special case in which the particles are all the same size, the results make clear that energy is more effectively transmitted to the assemblies when either the total vibrational energy or the normal component of the vibrational energy is increased, but that an increase in the energy transferred to the material can sometimes actually decrease the flow rates through the sieve. Consequently, at any instant of time in the sieving process, there is an optimum level of vibrational energy that will maximize the flow rate. For the sieving of binary granular assemblies, the physics associated with the effects of energy transfer on the flow rates still applies. However, in these cases, the flows through the sieve are also profoundly affected by segregation that occurs while the particles reside on sieve before the pass through. For this reason, we also isolate the segregation process from the sieving process by considering the special case in which the holes in the vibrating sieve are too small to allow any particles to pass through. In this case, the results show that under most circumstances the region immediately adjacent to the vibrating surface will be populated almost entirely by the smaller particles or by the more dissipative particles if there is no size disparity, and that the reverse is true in a second region above the first.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Binary Mixtures, Particle Segregation, Inclined Flows, Vibrating Sieves, Vibrating Boundaries, Boundary Conditions, Granular Flows