Purdue University Graduate School
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Investigation of Jamming Phenomenon in a DRI Furnace Pellet Feed System using the Discrete Element Method and Computational Fluid Dynamics

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posted on 2023-05-11, 13:08 authored by John Gregory RosserJohn Gregory Rosser


Direct reduction ironmaking has gained popularity as a low carbon alternative to the typical blast furnace ironmaking route. A popular method of producing direct reduced iron is through the reduction of iron ore pellets in a reduction shaft furnace. Critical to this process is the use of a reliable continuous pellet feed system to provide a steady flow of pellets to the furnace. Therefore, any disruption in pellet flow can have a significant negative impact on the production rate of iron. 

An iron ore pellet feed system for a direct reduction ironmaking furnace is jamming during winter operation. The pellets are jamming in a hopper at the top of the feed system above the furnace, and a hot gas, that seals off the furnace flue gas, flows counter to the pellets. A computational model of the feed system is built utilizing the discrete element method and computational fluid dynamics, using Siemen’s commercial multiphysics software Star-CCM+, to study the conditions that cause the jam to occur. The study is divided into six parts: pellet bulk flow calibration, computational cost reduction, modeling of the baseline operation, modeling the effect of moisture, development of a thermal model, and investigation of the minimal amount of icy and wet material to jam the system. The findings show that the location of jamming during operation matches the area in the simulation where it is most likely to occur, and that moisture alone is unlikely to result in jamming. Results indicate that the system will jam when charged with a minimum of 15% icy pellets, and when charged with 10% icy together with 5% wet pellets. Experimental work is recommended to validate the findings and to calibrate the simulations accordingly.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • Hammond

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Chenn Zhou

Additional Committee Member 2

Xiuling Wang

Additional Committee Member 3

Harvey Abramowitz