Metamodelling of the behaviour of bulk and granular material handling equipment

Marc Fransen

Problem Domain:

The design of bulk handling equipment is an expensive and time-consuming venture because of prototyping. The discrete element method is used to model the behaviour of bulk handling equipment and gives valuable information on the bulk handling operation. Although it is a valuable tool it consumes a considerable amount of time which is undesirable in a design process. During this project I will develop a strategy to include the valuable information from DEM simulations in metamodels. Metamodels can capture the relations between design parameters and performance of bulk handling equipment in computationally efficient way. This makes it possible to include optimization in the design process of bulk handling equipment.

Keywords: Design of bulk handling equipment, metamodeling, experimental model validation, granular flow, design optimization


The goal of the project is to provide a design strategy for bulk handling equipment which uses the information from DEM models and experiments in the design process of bulk handling equipment through the use of  metamodels that describe the relation between bulk equipment performance and the design parameters of the bulk equipment.


To achieve the objectives an experimental silo setup has been built to investigate the design relations between granular flow and silo geometry. Additionally the silo setup will be modelled using DEM to provide numerical data on the granular flow. Based on the data several metamodeling techniques are tested on their capability of capturing the characteristic behaviour of the silo and the design relations affect the characteristics.


Currently the first result is taking shape which shows that the output of a DEM model of the silo can be related to the design parameters of the silo through response surface methods. Although the results are promising additional research on the metamodeling techniques is needed to increase the accuracy of these models.

[1] Metamodelling of Structural Design Parameters affecting Silo Discharge Performance, M.P. Fransen and D.L. Schott, CHoPS conference 2018

[2] Opportunities for metamodelling techniques in design of bulk and granular material handling equipment: a review, M.P. Fransen and D.L. Schott, in progress


Department funded project


Ir. Marc Fransen – PhD candidate –

Dr. ir. Dingena Schott – Supervisor and promotor