Granular Matter

, Volume 7, Issue 2–3, pp 69–81 | Cite as

Regimes of segregation and mixing in combined size and density granular systems: an experimental study



Granular segregation in a rotating tumbler occurs due to differences in either particle size or density, which are often varied individually while the other is held constant. Both cases present theoretical challenges; even more challenging, however, is the case where density and size segregation may compete or reinforce each other. The number of studies addressing this situation is small. Here we present an experimental study of how the combination of size and density of the granular material affects mixing and segregation. Digital images are obtained of experiments performed in a half-filled quasi-2D circular tumbler using a bi-disperse mixture of equal volumes of different sizes of steel and glass beads. For particle size and density combinations where percolation and buoyancy both contribute to segregation, either radial streaks or a “classical” core can occur, depending on the particle size ratio. For particle combinations where percolation and buoyancy oppose one another, there is a transition between a core composed of denser beads to a core composed of smaller beads. Mixing can be achieved instead of segregation if the denser beads are also bigger and if the ratio of particle size is greater than the ratio of particle density. Temporal evolution of these segregated patterns is quantified in terms of a “segregation index” (based on the area of the segregated pattern) and a “shape index” (based on the area and perimeter of the segregated pattern).


Granular flow Granular materials Mixing Segregation Organization 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nitin Jain
    • 1
  • Julio M. Ottino
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard M. Lueptow
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringNorthwestern UniversityEvanston
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringNorthwestern UniversityEvanston

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