Electrostatic forces can significantly alter flow properties of granular materials and can adversely affect many industrial particulate processes in unpredictable ways. We investigate here the effect of higher order dielectric electrostatic forces, which are created by non-uniform electric fields, on the agglomeration, adhesion and flow of several granular materials, including pharmaceutical powders. We find that materials can adhere consistently and reproducibly to a metallic rod in a sufficiently strong electric field, which can be produced by either a DC source or tribocharged surfaces. These results provide a simple way to characterize material susceptibility to electrostatic agglomeration. The effect of applied non-uniform fields on the flow of grains falling from a cylindrical hopper is studied and found to significantly reduce the particle flow rate. The effects of humidity, particle size, coatings, and the grounding of equipment are also tested. Finally, contrary to common intuition, we find that grounding a metallic surface can actually exacerbate particle adhesion and agglomeration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Powder flow