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European Congress on Computational Methods in Applied Sciences and Engineering

ECCOMAS 2000
Barcelona, 11-14 September 2000
ECCOMAS

FINITE ELEMENT METHODS FOR ANALYSIS OF STATIC

PRESSURE DISTRIBUTIONS IN GRAIN SILOS WITH ECCENTRIC
OUTLETS.

A. Couto Yez *, M. Guaita Fernndez *, F. Ayuga Tllez , and Pedro Aguado Rodrguez +
*
Departamento de Ingeniera Agroforestal
Campus de Lugo.27002 Lugo, Spain.
e-mail: guaita@lugo.usc.es

Departamento de Construccin y Vas rurales.
Avda. Complutense s/n, 28045 Madrid Spain
Email: ayuga@cvr.upm.es
+

Key words: F.E.M., Silo, Eccentric outlets

Abstract. One of the main causes of grain silo failure is the build-up of excessive
pressure on the silo wall during discharge. Different theoretical models have been
proposed for analysing pressure distributions during discharge, but to date none has
proved totally satisfactory. These problems are compounded when the grain outlet is
eccentric. In practice, the problem is typically dealt with by applying generous safety
margins to the specifications determined for static pressures and central discharge.
However, the current availability of powerful computers means that numerical
methods such as finite element analysis can be applied to problems of this type.
Indeed, many research teams are now investigating the use of finite element methods
in silo design.

We performed an analysis of static pressure distributions in grain silos with eccentric

outlets. To this end, silos were modelled using ANSYS 5.5, which generates an APDL
parameter file, facilitating rapid modification of model parameters. Here, we present
results for a silo with a height of 10.5 m (cylinder height 8 m, base cone height 2.5 m),
a silo radius of 3 m, and an outlet radius of 0.5 m. Outlet eccentricity ranged from 0%
(central outlet) to 100% (maximally eccentric outlet, in top view appearing outside but
tangential to the cylinder).

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A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

1 INTRODUCTION
Since the last third of the XIX century, numerous theories have been put forward to
evaluate the pressures exerted on silo walls. However, many features of their calculation have
not yet been accurately described, leading to design faults in this type of structure all over the
world, with the consequent economic and human losses.

In Spain there is currently no specific legislation which regulates the calculation and design
of silos. At the European level, silos are considered under the European standards (Eurocode
1, Part IV. Actions in silos and tanks)1, based on the JANSSEN2 equation (1895) with no
proposed method of calculation in the case of an eccentric outlet. The guidelines include a
brief mention that eccentricity should not exceed 25% of the silo diameter and that in the
future, attempts will be made to cover large eccentricities.

Classical theories have included several attempts to develop mathematical expressions

which consider overpressures due to eccentric discharge. These models are based on the
calculation of pressures produced in a centered static state, and correct for the eccentricity of
outflow and subsequently incorporate increment coefficients in a discharge state.

Several experimental studies have confirmed that the distribution and magnitude of
pressures undergo substantial change when the point of outflow is eccentric with respect to a
central outlet. Thus, given that this problem has not yet been resolved, the present research
was designed to determine and interpret the distribution of such pressures and their increase in
magnitude in response to changes in the eccentricity of the hopper. To this end, the
commercial ANSYS program3, based on the finite element method (FEM) was employed.

The effects of hopper eccentricity on wall pressures were evaluated by three dimensional
modeling and led to the proposal of a valid method for the simulation of grain-wall friction
and elements which serve to simulate silage material.

2 GENERATING THE MODEL.

The analysis of static pressures in cylindrical silos with eccentric hoppers, rigid walls and
elasto-plastic4 behavior of the stored material was conducted using a silo of the following
dimensions:

- Silo height: Hs = 10.5 m.

- Hopper height: T = 2.5 m.
- Cylinder height: H = 8 m.
- Silo radius: R= 3 m.
- Width of silo-hopper junction with finest mesh to 2A = 1 m.
reduce the % energy error due to the mesh

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A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

- Outlet radius: Rt = 0.5 m.

- Hopper eccentricity (%): EXCT = 0 % 100 %
- Angle formed between hopper elements , = variable
in the XZ plane and the horizontal. (according to hopper
eccentricity)

-Y (270)
EXC RT
R

H
Hs -X (180) +X (0)

2A
A +Y (90)
T

+Z

0
+X

LESF2
LESF1

LESFUNION

Figure 2. Pressure lines.

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A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

SURFACE TO SURFACE friction was used in the friction simulation. For this purpose,
once the volumes represented by the stored material were generated and meshed, we selected
areas of the cylinder contour (areas of grain-wall friction) and generated parallel areas at a
distance of a tenth of a millimeter to simulate the wall of the silo (see Fig. 3).

Meshing of silo
Meshing of grain friction areas wall areas with
with CONTACT 173 element TARGET 170
element

S = 0,0001 m.

Figure 3. Meshing of friction elements.

Next, the friction was meshed by selecting areas of the silo wall and meshing them with the
TARGET 170 element. Following this, we selected the areas of grain friction and meshed
them with the CONTACT 173 element, placing the nodes of the latter over the faces of the
SOLID 45 elements (stored granular material) in contact with the wall.

With regard to the contour conditions, the nodes at the bottom of the silo are selected and
fixed in the three spatial directions (see Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Fixing the nodes at the bottom of the silo .

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A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

In order to evaluate pressures produced in silos with different hopper eccentricities, three
lines of pressures were generated (LESF1, LESF2 and LESFUNION, see Fig. 2) and
horizontal and vertical pressures were analyzed by each of these.

LESF1 and LESF2: This involves the study of pressures in two cylinder opposite vertical
lines and its continuation with that corresponding to the hopper cone.

LESFUNION: This consists of the analysis of pressures occurring at the silo-hopper

junction, since it is known that it is here where the greatest pressures are produced. As shown
in Figure 2, this drawing of the pressure covers the perimeter of the circumference of the silo-
hopper junction.

3 RESULTS
Figure 5 shows the curves of normal pressures acting on the hopper wall at the silo-hopper
junction for the different angles of internal friction considered, varying the eccentricity of the
hopper. This is also compared to elastic behavior in the same graph. It may be observed in
LESF1 that the pressures decrease as hopper eccentricity rises. These are greater when
considering elastic behavior than when elasto-plastic behavior is considered, except for an
eccentricity of 100%. On the side of LESF2, pressures increase with hopper eccentricity and
are greater for larger angles of internal friction. Elastic behavior exerted pressures
intermediate between elasto-plastic for internal friction angles of =28 and =25, with the
exception of the central hopper, in which actions at the silo-hopper junction are greater for
elastic behavior.

Table 1 shows the differences in normal pressures on the hopper wall at the silo-hopper
junction for the different eccentricities, taking the pressures for internal friction angles of 22
as 100%. The (+) and (-) signs indicate that the pressures are greater or lower than for =22
respectively.

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A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

NORMAL PRESSURE ON HOPPER WALL AT THE TRANSITION TO THE HOPPER FOR LESF1 AND LESF2
Analysis of the effects of outlet eccentricity on static pressure distribution

70
P.n. on LESF1. INTERNAL FRICTION ANGLE = 22

P.n. on LESF1. INTERNAL FRICTION ANGLE = 25

60
P.n. on LESF1. INTERNAL FRICTION ANGLE = 28

P.n. on LESF1. INTERNAL FRICTION ANGLE = 30

NORMAL PRESSURE ON THE WALL (kPa

50 P.n. EN LESF1.ELASTIC

P.n. on LESF2. INTERNAL FRICTION ANGLE =25

40
P.n. on LESF2. INTERNAL FRICTION ANGLE = 28

P.n. on LESF2. INTERNAL FRICTION ANGLE = 30

30 P.n. EN LESF2.ELASTIC

20
LESF2
LESF1

10

0
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

OUTLET ECCENTRICITY (%)

Graphic 1
Figure 5.

ECCENTRICITY 0% 20 % 40 % 60 % 80 % 100
%
Differences in LESF1 from
+2.9 +0.81 +4.89 +3.66 - 0.887 - 2.774
= 25 to = 22
Differences in LESF1 from
+11.6 +6.89 +3.52 +3.76 - 3.509 - 6.546
= 28 to = 22
Differences in LESF1 from
+9.53 +8.12 +7.03 +6.36 - 2.76 - 6.378
= 30 to = 22
Differences in LESF1 from
+15.9 +19.9 +27.6 +26.8 +29.4 - 17.26
Elastic to = 22
Differences in LESF2 from
+2.9 - 4.163 +0.38 +6.77 +7.21 +8.82
= 25 to = 22
Differences in LESF2 from
+11.6 - 0.242 +8.74 +12.5 +12.2 +14.9
= 28 to = 22
Differences in LESF2 from
+9.53 +2.65 +11.8 +15.9 +15.1 +18.3
= 30 to = 22
Differences in LESF2 from
+15.9 - 1.838 +6.88 +10.8 +10.6 +11.3
Elastic to = 22

Table 1. Change in the % normal pressure at the hopper wall and at the silo-hopper junction for the different
angles of internal friction considered.

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A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

4 CONCLUSIONS
Analysis was made of a series of variables involved in the static pressures generated in
agricultural silos with an eccentric hopper using the commercial ANSYS 5.5. program based
on the FEM. The most significant conclusions are summarized below.

According to the FEM, the pressure curves corresponding to the cylinder wall until the
silo-hopper junction is approached, follow the same tendency as calculation methods proposed
by existing standards, but are lower than those proposed by the Eurocode.

The FEM, in agreement with the Eurocode, situates greatest pressures at the silo-hopper
junction, unlike the French and DIN norms, according to which these correspond to inside the
hopper.

While in the Eurocode, static pressures are proposed when the hopper is centered and
considered to be valid up to an eccentricity limit of 0.25 times the diameter (eccentricity of
60% in our models), their redistribution at the hopper wall when this is eccentric may be
observed by means of the FEM, increasing on the opposite side to the outlet and decreasing on
the same side with respect to the central hopper. This leads us to conclude that a more
conservative method of calculation should be used in the Eurocode for normal pressures on
the hopper wall when centered, and coefficients drawn up to include the variations produced
in the static state when it is off-center.

According to the FEM, hopper eccentricity does not affect pressures on the cylinder wall
until areas close to the silo-hopper junction are approached. Maximum normal pressures on
the silo wall correspond to the silo-hopper junction, on the opposite side to the displacement
of the outlet for any eccentricity, increasing at this point as hopper eccentricity rises.

According to the FEM, the K factor is not constant throughout the silo, unlike the case
described in the Eurocode, in which it is subject to a variation in height for the same
eccentricity and a further variation according to the eccentricity of the hopper, for different
eccentricities.

In the wall zone opposite the shift in the outlet (important in design since it is here where
the greatest pressures are found) the K factor obtained via the FEM decreases, both in the
cylinder wall and along the length of the hopper wall, as eccentricity increases, with an
inverted effect at the silo-hopper junction, each time differing more from the values proposed
by the Eurocode. At the same time, the values assumed by factor K along the silo wall are
lower than those of the Eurocode, with the exception of an area of the hopper wall close to the
outlet when centered.

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A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

The areas subject to plastification inside the silo diminish as the internal angle of friction of
the stored material increases. Thus, for a 30 angle, plastic areas are reduced to a very small
zone in the proximity of the silo-hopper junction. As the eccentricity of the outlet rises, the
area of plastification becomes concentrated on the opposite side to its displacement and
decreases on the side of advance. Thus, for hopper eccentricities of 80% and 100%, the
plastic area that was located close to the silo-hopper junction on the displacement side of the
hopper disappears.

Normal pressures on the wall according to the FEM, both at the cylinder wall and the
hopper, increase as the internal friction angle of the stored material decreases. However, at
the silo-hopper junction and proximity this tendency is inverted.

On the side of displacement of the hopper, pressures, for the same internal friction angle,
decrease as hopper eccentricity rises. For elastic behavior the pressure peak for all
eccentricities is found at the silo-hopper junction. However, considering the elasto-plastic
criterion and for intermediate eccentricities, maximum lateral pressures on the walls are found
within the hopper wall, leading to an increase in pressures in the first stretch of the hopper
wall, unlike elastic in which a marked decrease is recorded.

On the opposite side to the displacement of the hopper, pressures increase as its
eccentricity rises for a given internal friction angle. However, while for elastic behavior
maximum pressures are found at the silo-hopper junction, a marked decrease of 2.5 m. to 2 m
in height was observed for all the eccentricities analyzed. For the elasto-plastic behavior and
as the internal friction angle falls, this initial decrease is ever less until it becomes inverted for
an angle of 22. In this case an initial increase in pressures is produced as we start to survey
the hopper.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

The authors are grateful to the CICYT (Spanish Research and Technology Commission)
for funding this project (AGF97-1141).

REFERENCES:

[1] ENV 1991-4. Eurocode 1 : Basis of design and actions on structures. Part 4 : Actions on
silos and tanks.

[2] Janssen H. A. (1895). Versuch ber Getreidedruck in Sillozellen [Experiments on grain

loads in silo cells] . Zeischrift des Verein Deutscher Ingenieure. 39, 1045-1049

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A. Couto, M. Guaita, F. Ayuga, and P. Aguado

[3] ANSYS User's Manuals for Revision 5.3 (1998). Vol. I, II, III, IV and V. Swanson
Analysis Systems, Inc. Houston (USA).

[4] Drucker, D.C.; Prager,W. (1952). Soil mechanics and plastic analysis on limit design.
Quart. Appl. Math. 10 (2), 157-165.