Bulk Solids Handling

Module summary

Module code: GEEN1135
Level: 6
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Engineering
Module Coordinator(s): Richard Farnish



Contextualise the significance of bulk solids handling technology within the process industry and demonstrate the models and techniques used to solve storage and handling problems.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1: Critically analyse how the particle properties and bulk flow properties are measured and the suitability of the different techniques that are commonly used.
2: Evaluate the physical laws that govern bulk solid flow behaviour.
3: Critically analyse the fundamental principles that control the discharge behaviour of bulk solids from storage vessels, with an awareness of the pros and cons of different storage schemes for bulk solid with different flow properties i.e. free flowing, cohesive, time sensitive, abrasive etc.
4: Critically analyse the fundamental principles that control the operation of different types of transport conveyor with a knowledge of their relative pros and cons for different; applications and bulk solid flow properties.
5: Evaluate the suitability of the commonly used discharge aids for different bulk solid properties and storage and handling operations.
6: Evaluate the potential problems that particle; segregation, degradation and agglomeration can present to the process industry, with a knowledge of techniques that can be employed to mitigate them during storage and conveying operations.

Indicative content

Introduction to Bulk Solids Handling Technology: Overview of the range of Industrial sectors handling bulk solids, typical process layouts, and typical process problems.
Bulk solid characterisation: Particle properties; size and distribution measurement techniques, simple testers; discharge rate, angle of repose, powder rheometers, bulk flow properties measured with shear testers, flow function, bulk density and wall friction.
Relationships between the particle and bulk properties: The effect of the particle properties, size, shape, moisture content, free flow additive and processing conditions on the bulk flow behaviour .
Reliable gravity flow from Storage: Fundamentals of powder discharge behaviour in storage vessels, flow patterns and flow obstructions, Jenike hopper design method to determine geometry for reliable gravity flow in a mass or core flow pattern.
Silo pressures: Wall pressures and feeder loads for a range of operating conditions; initial filling, or discharge for a range of flow patterns (mass flow, mixed flow and core flow).
Interfacing: Geometric requirements of different feeder types to ensure a uniform draw down in storage vessels.
Flow promoting devices: An overview of the mode of operation and suitability of the common flow promoting devices namely; vibrations, air injection, mechanical extraction and inserts technology.
Belt Conveyors: Overview of the different belt conveyor types; textured, bucket, tube/sling, blanket, thrower etc. and their applications, design calculations for a belt conveyors; review of loads on the belt, belt tension, idler spacing, belt elongation and power requirement.
Screw conveyors: Overview of the different operating modes, flooded, gravity and dynamic modes, displacement diagrams, screw forms for specific processing operations, power calculation.
Pneumatic Conveyor Design: Overview of the components of a PC, how to design a PC system from the characteristics, scale for length, size the filter area.
Quality issues, how to measure and mitigate: bulk solid segregation by particle size (elutriation and or surface effect), particle degradation (breakage) during handling and agglomeration mechanisms; moisture migration, chemical reaction, plastic flow and electrostatics.

Teaching and learning activity

The course is delivered through formal lectures and tutorials. Fundamental concepts are introduced in lectures and emphasized using examples and demonstrations and discussed further in tutorials. Tutorials provide the opportunity for the student to demonstrate their new skills and knowledge through guided examples and problem sheets. A comprehensive laboratory programme aids the understanding of the subject matter further, in addition to developing essential practical skills. Self-learning activities are an important part of the course.


Students are required to pass all components in order to pass the course. As part of the requirement, each component must be passed with a minimum of 30% and the course must be passed with an overall minimum of 40%.

Methods of SUMMATIVE Assessment: Continuous assessment.
Outcome(s) assessed by summative assessment (Please use the numbers above to refer to these):
1 – 3.
Grading Mode: Numeric.
Weighting: 50%.
Pass Mark: 30%.
Outline Details: Continuous Assessment: 2 labs.

Methods of SUMMATIVE Assessment: Examination.
Outcome(s) assessed by summative assessment (Please use the numbers above to refer to these):
1 – 6.
Grading Mode: Numeric.
Weighting: 50%.
Pass Mark: 30%.
Outline Details: 3 hours Closed book Written Examination.