The effect of particle shape on discharge and clogging

by Hafez, A, Liu Q., Finkbeiner T., Alouhali, R. A., Moellendick, T. E, & Santamarina, J. C
Article Year: 2021 DOI:


Hafez, A., Liu, Q., Finkbeiner, T., Alouhali, R. A.,  Moellendick, T. E & Santamarina, J. C.  (2021). The effect of particle shape on discharge and clogging. Scientific Reports, 11 (3309).



Granular flow is common across different fields from energy resource recovery and mineral processing to grain transport and traffic flow. Migrating particles may jam and form arches that span constrictions and hinder particle flow. Most studies have investigated the migration and clogging of spherical particles, however, natural particles are rarely spherical, but exhibit eccentricity, angularity and roughness. New experiments explore the discharge of cubes, 2D crosses, 3D crosses and spheres under dry conditions and during particle-laden fluid flow. Variables include orifice-to-particle size ratio and solidity. Cubes and 3D crosses are the most prone to clogging because of their ability to interlock or the development of face-to-face contacts that can resist torque and enhance bridging. Spheres arriving to the orifice must be correctly positioned to create stable bridges, while fat 2D crosses orient their longest axes in the direction of flowlines across the orifice and favor flow. Intermittent clogging causes kinetic retardation in particle-laden flow even in the absence of inertial effects; the gradual increase in the local particle solidity above the constriction enhances particle interactions and the probability of clogging. The discharge volume before clogging is a Poisson process for small orifice-to-particle size ratio; however, the clogging probability becomes history-dependent for nonspherical particles at large orifice-to-particle size ratio and high solidities, i.e., when particle–particle interactions and interlocking gain significance.


Particle shape clogging granular flow