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Performance Analysis of a Silo-SlideGate-Feeder System to Regulate the Ore Flow by DEM Simulation


Severe variability of fresh feed ore flowrate in a crushing circuit may cause some operational damages. Related issues include conveyor belt and sieves overload, interlocked crushers, early equipment wear, and silos overflow. Usually, the speed of feeders is used to control the ore output from silos; however, it is ineffective in regulating the height of material carried by the feeder. The introduction of a slide gate in the primary silo of the crushing circuit is an alternative to increase the degree of freedom for controlling the fresh ore flowrate. This paper presents a numerical simulation using a discrete element method (DEM) applied in a silo-gate-feeder system. The simulated model is based on parameters from a Vale’s iron ore beneficiation plant located in Serra Leste Mine, city of Curionópolis, Brazil. The simulation was carried out using the software Siemens Star CCM+ ®. Three scenarios were evaluated, such as changes in the slide gate aperture. The results show that regulating the feeder speed simultaneously with the gate aperture provides a novel control strategy to reduce variability in fresh ore flowrate. The best simulation result reduced in about 11% the variability flowrate compared with the case with no slide gate.

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\(C_{fs}\) :

Static friction coefficient

\(C_{n rest}\) :

Normal restitution coefficient

\(C_{t rest}\) :

Tangential restitution coefficient

D :

Particle diameter

\(D_{ref}\) :

Particle reference diameter

\(d_{n}\) :

Overlap in the normal direction

\(d_{t}\) :

Overlap in the tangential direction

\(E_{A}\) :

Sphere A Young’s modulus

\(E_{B}\) :

Sphere B Young’s modulus

\(E_{eq}\) :

Equivalent Young’s modulus

\(F_{contact}\) :

Contact force between particles and structure

\(F_{n}\) :

Normal force

\(F_{t}\) :

Tangential force

\(G_{eq}\) :

Equivalent shear modulus

\(K_{n}\) :

Normal stiffness

\(K_{t}\) :

Tangential stiffness

\(M_{A}\) :

Sphere A mass

\(M_{B}\) :

Sphere B mass

\(M_{eq}\) :

Equivalent mass

\(N_n\) :

Normal damping

\(N_t\) :

Tangential damping

\(N_{n damp}\) :

Normal damping coefficient

\(N_{t damp}\) :

Tangential damping coefficient

\(R_{A}\) :

Sphere A radius

\(R_{B}\) :

Sphere B radius

\(R_{eq}\) :

Equivalent radius

\(V_{A}\) :

Sphere A Poisson’s ratio

\(V_{B}\) :

Sphere B Poisson’s ratio

\(V_{n}\) :

Normal velocity

\(V_{t}\) :

Tangential velocity


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We thank the financial support given by: the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Finance Code 001; the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) through grants 402759/2018-4 and 444425/2018-7; and the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG). We also acknowledge the support by Instituto Tecnológico Vale (ITV); Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (UFOP), and Vale S.A. An early version of this paper has been presented at the XXIII Congresso Brasileiro de Automática (CBA 2020).

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Correspondence to Leonardo C. O. de Souza.

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In the link below, we provide a video comparing how Scenarios 1 and 3 behave in the EDEM software.

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Souza, L.C.O.d., Júnior, O.T.L., Barros, J.L. et al. Performance Analysis of a Silo-SlideGate-Feeder System to Regulate the Ore Flow by DEM Simulation. J Control Autom Electr Syst 33, 1310–1318 (2022).

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  • Numerical simulation
  • DEM
  • Apron feeder
  • Sliding gate