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An experimental and numerical study of packing, compression, and caking behaviour of detergent powders

Subhash C.Thakur;Hossein Ahmadian;Jin Sun;Jin Y.Ooi;School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh;Newcastle Innovation Centre, Procter and Gamble Technical Centre Ltd;  
This paper presents an experimental and numerical study of the packing, compression, and caking behaviour of spray dried detergent(SDD) powders with a two-fold aim: an experimental process of observation and evaluation of the packing, compression and caking behaviour of SDD powders, and a numerical approach based on discrete element modelling(DEM). The mechanical properties, including the stress–strain response and the corresponding porosity change as a function of consolidation stress in a confined cylinder, the stress–strain response during unconfined shearing and the cake strength as a function of consolidation stress, were evaluated and compared for different SDD powders using an extended uniaxial tester(Edinburgh Powder Tester – EPT). The experiments using EPT showed excellent reproducibility in the measurement of packing, compression and caking behaviour and were therefore very useful for describing the handling characteristics of these powdered products including screening new products and different formulations. It was found that the sample with higher moisture had lower bulk porosity but higher compressibility and cake strength. The porosity, compressibility and cake strength were found to vary across different size fractions of the same sample. The larger sieve-cut samples had higher initial bulk porosity, compressibility and cake strength. It is revealed that moisture plays a significant role in packing, compression, and shearing behaviour of the powder. Three-dimensional DEM modelling using a recently developed elasto-plastic adhesive-frictional contact model showed that the contact model is able to capture the detergent behaviour reasonably well and can be used to model complex processes involving these powders.
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