A Review of Computational Models for the Flow of Milled Biomass Part I: Discrete-Particle Models

Yidong Xia, Jonathan Stickel, Wencheng Jin, Jordan Klinger

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35 Scopus Citations


Biomass is a renewable and sustainable energy resource. Current design of biomass handling and feeding equipment leverage both experiments and numerical modeling. This paper reviews the state-of-the-art discrete element methods (DEM) for the flow of milled biomass (Part I), accompanied by a comprehensive review on continuum-based computational models (Part II). The present review on DEM is primarily focused on the features and suitability of various particle shape models for different types of milled biomass because particle shape is the predominant attribute controlling the flow behavior of complex-shaped granular material. The general strengths and weaknesses in the applicability of those models for the milled biomass modeling are summarized. In particular, comments are provided to balance the numerical model capabilities and the computational cost for the development of DEM models. To our best knowledge, this is the first-of-its-kind review on DEM specifically for biomass. Our study indicates that the current DEM models require further development, calibration, and validation based on a deep understanding of biomass particle contact mechanics and experimental data support before they can be reliably used for predictive simulations in handling and feeding systems.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)6142-6156
Number of pages15
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-75991


  • bulk flow
  • composite-sphere
  • discrete element method
  • granular materials
  • lignocellulose
  • polyhedral
  • sphero-cylindrical


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