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Material Distribution in the Partially Filled Zone of a Twin-Screw Extruder

ROBBERT A. DE GRAAF, DOLF. J. WOLDRINGH, and ON P. B. M. JANSSEN LE


Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 4, 9747 AG, Groningen, The Netherlands
Received: May 17, 1999 Accepted: June 11, 1999

ABSTRACT: Simulation of monomeric material transport in reactive


extrusion revealed that two different situations can be distinguished in the partially lled zone of a twin-screw extruder. Material is transported from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the screw by drag or material remains on the bottom of the channel because of gravity. Which process takes place can be predicted when the ratio between the Froude number (gravitation forces) and the Reynolds number (viscous forces) is known. From experiments in a perspex model of a corotating, self-wiping, twin-screw extruder, using glycerol and silicone oil as model uids, it could be observed which situation can be expected at different lling degrees, screw speeds, throughputs, and viscosities. In the case of a constant lling degree, material moves up with the screw ight at a certain value of Fr/Re. At higher Fr/Re ratios, a larger lling degree is needed for the screws to drag material up with the screw ights. When the lling degree reaches one-half, material moves up with both the pushing and the pulling screw ight. On the basis of these observations, a model is proposed to determine the backow in the partially lled zone of a corotating, selfwiping, twin-screw extruder, dependent on viscosity and screw speed. 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Adv Polym Techn 18: 295 302, 1999

Correspondence to: Robbert A. de Graaf

Advances in Polymer Technology, Vol. 18, No. 4, 295 302 (1999) 1999 by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

CCC 0730-6679/99/040295-08

MATERIAL DISTRIBUTION IN A TWIN-SCREW EXTRUDER

Introduction

lthough twin-screw extruders are being used in many industrial applications, their modeling is still underdeveloped. Over the past few years, there has emerged a growing interest in using twinscrew extruders as chemical reactors as well for the polymerization to and the grafting of synthetic polymers as for the modication of different kinds of biopolymers. Especially when extruders are used as chemical reactors, a good understanding of mass ow, rheology, mixing time, and thermal behavior is important. Various types of extruders exist, all with their specic advantages and disadvantages. In the case of the corotating, self-wiping, twin-screw extruder, drag ow is the main transport mechanism. Examining this extruder more closely, four zones can be distinguished: the solid transport zone, or feed zone, where solid material (granules) is transported and the temperature increases, the melt zone, where material is melted, the partially lled zone, where the chambers are partially empty and no pressure gradient occurs, and the pump zone. In this last zone, the chambers are completely lled with material and pressure is built up. Between the partially lled zone and the fully lled zone a transfer zone exists. In this zone, chambers are lled up. When the extruder is used as a polymerization reactor, generally liquid monomers are fed into the feed zone instead of granules. For obvious reasons, the behavior of uids is different compared to the granule ow. Besides this different behavior, also the reaction of monomers forming polymers has a considerable effect on the transport of liquids in an extruder. Because of the polymerization reaction, the viscosity may change from approximately 1 mPa s to 10000 Pa s. The objective of the present study is to establish a model describing the behavior of material in the partially lled zone. To validate the theoretical assumptions made, a perspex model of a corotating, self-wiping, twin-screw extruder was built to observe the different situations occurring at different extruder and material properties.

FIGURE 1. Different twin-screw geometries: (upper


picture) corotating, closely intermeshing; (middle picture) counterrotating, closely intermeshing; (lower picture) corotating, self-wiping.

ing as the main transport mechanism. Both counterrotating and corotating, closely intermeshing twin-screw extruders belong to this category. The second type uses drag ow as the main transport mechanism. To this category belong corotating, selfwiping, twin-screw extruders. In this extruder, the ight of one of the screws scrapes the ight of the other screw as a result of its unique geometry.1 In practice, corotating twin-screw extruders are usually constructed with narrow ights.2 5 With the completely open eight-shaped channel as a starting point, similarity with the single-screw extruder can be detected. The simplest approximation considers the channel to have a rectangular cross-sectional shape, with average height H and width W. The barrel wall moves with a velocity v over the screw channel under an angle , the pitch angle (Figure 2): v DN cos (1)

Theory
Twin-screw extruders can be divided into two types (Figure 1). The rst type uses positive convey-

where N revolutions per second, D diameter of one screw, and pitch angle. The maximum drag ow capacity equals Qd 1 2(2n 1)vHWFd (2)

where Fd is the correction factor to obtain the real

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FIGURE 3. Material distribution between ights.

FIGURE 2. Schematic diagram of the velocity proles


at maximum throughput for self-wiping twin-screw extruder.

extruder channel as described by equation (1). H is the height of the channel and g is the gravitation constant. For viscous effects, the Reynolds number is used: Re vH/ (5)

geometry of the channel1 and n is the amount of thread starts on a single screw. Since no pressure ow occurs in the partially lled zone, the lling degree () in this zone can be calculated from

Qreal /Qd

(3)

in which is the viscosity of the material used, is the material density, and H is the height of a channel. The ratio between these two numbers can be described as Fvisc Fr ND cos Fg Re gH2 (6)

where Qreal is the real throughput and Qd is the maximum throughput due to drag ow. Equations 1 3 describe the throughput but do not give an impression of how material behaves in the screw channel. Basically, two limiting cases are known, depending on the ratio between viscous forces and gravitational forces: material remains at the bottom of the channel and the extruder acts as an Archimedian pump or material is dragged up by the pushing ight and is transported over the screws (Figure 3). Gravitational effects can be expressed by means of the Froude number: Fr v2 gH (4)

in which v is the mean velocity of material in the

This ratio is also known as the reciprocal Jeffreys number.6 When Fr/Re is larger than a certain value, the viscous forces dominate the gravitational forces. When Fr/Re is small compared to this certain value, the gravitational forces dominate the viscous forces. Both situations are sketched in Figure 3. It should be noted that the Fr/Re ratio is only valid in situations where centrifugal forces can be neglected. For large-size extruders running at high rotational speed, centrifugal forces can become signicant as shown in Table I. Liquid remaining on the bottom of the channel will be transported by the pushing ight of the screw with the displacement velocity v ND sin .

TABLE I
Centrifugal Forces at Different Screw Diameters and Rotation Speeds Diameter (mm) This work Conventional compounding Supercompounding 50 92 92 Screw Speed (rps) 2.16 8.33 20 Acceleration/Gravity (v 2/Rs g) 0.46 13 74

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MATERIAL DISTRIBUTION IN A TWIN-SCREW EXTRUDER

FIGURE 4. Schematic drawing of the partially lled


zone in the case that material sticks to the screw: (A) overview; (B) coordinates used; (C) axial overview.

The behavior of the liquid at the ights of the screws can be approximated by the draining of a falling lm at a tilted wall (Figure 4). A force balance for a stationary owing Newtonian liquid leads to

FIGURE 5. Leakage ow in the partially lled zone


versus the viscosity of the extruded twin-screw extruder. Screw speed: (---) 1 rps; ( ) 2 rps; ( ) 5 rps.

g(d x)cos sin


h D

XZ 0

(7)

where d lm thickness (Figure 4), g gravitation constant, h height of the material as a function of x (Figure 4), material density, and XZ shear stress (N/m2). For Newtonian liquid, the shear stress can be described as

vz

uzdx d (10)

N cos (D H)

gDH cos cos 3


2

XZ

dvZ dx

(8)

Substitution of (8) into (7) and integration with the boundary conditions vz N cos (D H) (the mean velocity of the lm at the ight) at x 0 results in vz N cos (D H)

As long as d H, the barrel has a neglible inuence on the lm. The amount of material that is rotating over the screw (Qos) can be written as Qos vzHd (11)

g cos cos x2 xd 2 (9)

In Figure 5 the calculated maximum amount of material that is carried over the screws versus the viscosity can be found. The amount of material transported is dependent on the screw geometry, the viscosity, the screw speed, and the density of the material.

It should be noted that the sign accounts for the effect that the velocity is calculated with the barrel as a reference point. In the case when material moves up, the gravitational component in the equation decreases the mean velocity, resulting in a minus sign. When material moves downward, the gravitation component in the equation increases the mean velocity, resulting in a plus sign. The average velocity of the lm along the ight becomes

Experimental
To determine how material behaves in the partially lled zone of a self-wiping twin-screw extruder, a perspex model of this extruder type was built (Figure 6). In the perspex model, screw elements manufactured by APV-Baker were used with D

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MATERIAL DISTRIBUTION IN A TWIN-SCREW EXTRUDER changed. Tables III and IV show the parameters used. For the elements used, the Fr/Re ratio was calculated: Fr N 150 Re (12)

FIGURE 6. Model used for the experiments.

L 0.05 m. The total length of the model equaled 7D of the screw elements. In Table II the geometric constants of the elements are given. Glycerin ( 1.1 Pa s) and silicone oil ( 0.5 5.7 Pa s) were used as model uids. The screw speed could be adjusted from 0 to 6 rps. Throughputs of 0 to 7 106 m3 s1 were achieved using a Maag gear-type rotary pump with two impellers. All experiments were performed at room temperature (293 K). The die consisted of a vertical tube with an accurately known diameter (0.01 m). The length of the die could be adjusted to obtain different die pressures. In this way, throughput, die pressure, screw speed, and material properties could be varied independently. In Tables III and IV the extruder parameters used are given. Observations were made and recorded using a video camera.

Experiments where screw speed and viscosities were varied at a constant degree of ll showed that at a certain Fr/Re ratio the material distribution in the channel changed. These different material distributions with corresponding Fr/Re ratios are drawn in Figure 7. The experiment showed that material can be transported in different ways. At low screw speed, material remains at the bottom of the channel. Increasing the screw speed or the viscosity results in an increase of transport of material over the screw. The viscous forces, as described by the Reynolds number, increase and dominate the gravitational forces as described by the Froude number. Experiments where the degree of ll () was varied showed that this parameter has a pronounced inuence on the distribution of material in the channel. For every situation it was examined if material was dragged with the screw ight or remained at the bottom of the channel. In Figure 8 the boundary between these two regimes is set out. In the A regime all the material moves under the inuence of the pushing screw ight upward. Regime B means

Results and Discussion


Two types of experiments were done. First, at a constant degree of ll of the partially lled zone, the screw speed was varied for three different viscosities ( 0.5, 1.1, and 5.7 Pa s). Second, at a viscosity of 1.1 Pa s, the degree of ll at constant screw speed and the screw speed at constant lling degree were TABLE II
Geometric Constants of the Extruder Screws Used Rs n L 0.025 (m) 0.676 (rad) 0.039 (m) 2 0.05 (m) 0.219 (rad)

FIGURE 7. Schematic drawing of different material


distributions at constant lling degrees.

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MATERIAL DISTRIBUTION IN A TWIN-SCREW EXTRUDER TABLE III


Screw Speed and Throughputs for Different Filling Degrees of the Partially Filled Zone Screw Speed (rps) 0.25 0.33 0.42 0.50 0.63 0.80 1.00 1.42 1.60 2.13 Throughput (g/min)

0.008
5 6.7 8.3 10 12.7 16 20 28.3 32 42.7

0.08
50 67 83 100 127 160 200 283 320 427

0.17
100 133 167 200 253 320 400 567 640 853

0.25
150 200 250 300 380 480 600 850 960 1280

0.33
200 267 333 400 507 640 800 1133 1280 1707

0.42
250 333 417 500 633 800 1000 1417 1600 2133

that material remains at the bottom of the barrel. When 0.5, material is transported by both ights over the screw. Material tending to go over the screw can be considered as a leaking ow. The thickness of the material layer transported over the screw was mea-

sured with the help of the recorded video lm and appeared to be of the same order as calculated by equation (11) and set out in Figure 9. Another effect observed was that the thickness of material going up under the inuence of the ights exceeds the thickness of material going down at the other screw. Material tends to accumulate at the screw with the upgoing ight and is not homoge-

FIGURE 8. Graph of Fr /Re versus the lling degree in


the partially lled zone. Zone A: All material moves with the pushing screw edge. Zone B: Material remains at the bottom of the barrel. Zone C: Material moves up with the pushing and the pulling screw edges. () Measurements.

FIGURE 9. Maximum amount of material that is


dragged up with the pushing ight in transport elements at different screw speeds. Screw speed (model): (---) 1 rps, ( ) 2 rps, ( ) 5 rps; screw speed (measurement): () 1 rps, () 2 rps, () 5 rps.

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MATERIAL DISTRIBUTION IN A TWIN-SCREW EXTRUDER TABLE IV


Screw Speeds and Throughputs for Different Filling Degrees of the Partially Filled Zone Screw Speed (rps) 0.25 0.33 0.42 0.50 0.63 0.80 1.00 1.42 1.60 2.13 Throughput (g/min)

0.50
300 400 500 600 760 960 1200 1700 1920 2560

0.58
350 467 583 700 887 1120 1400 1983 2240 2987

0.67
400 533 667 800 1013 1280 1600 2267 2560 3413

0.75
450 600 750 900 1140 1440 1800 1550 2880 3840

0.83
500 667 833 1000 1267 1600 2000 2833 3200 4267

0.92
550 733 917 1100 1393 1760 2200 3117 3520 4693

neously distributed in the channel. This is in agreement with equations (10) and (11).

Conclusions
In the partially lled zone of twin-screw extruders, material is distributed differently in the screw channel due to the screw speed, the throughput, the lling degree, and material properties. Material remains at the bottom of the channel or material moves upward with the ight. The effects mentioned could clearly be seen in a perspex model of a self-wiping twin-screw extruder. Using the ratio between the Froude and Reynolds numbers, we could quantify different regimes. An implication of the signicance of Fr/Re is that model tests should hold the diameter-to-viscosity ratio constant for scaleup similitude to describe the uid behavior in screw channels as has also been noted by Todd.7 In cases where centrifugal forces can be neglected, the following conclusions can be drawn: 1. At higher Fr/Re ratios a larger lling degree is needed for the screws to drag material up with the screw ights. 2. When the lling degree exceeds 0.5, material moves up with both ights of the screw channel. 3. Using a simple force balance of a falling Newtonian lm at a tilted wall gives a good ap-

proximation of the amount of material going upward with the screw ight. 4. The amount of material that is dragged up by the pushing ight in the partially lled zone is dependent on the viscosity and screw speed but not on the throughput. 5. Material is not homogeneously distributed over both screws and tends to accumulate at the screw with the upgoing ight.

Acknowledgment
The authors thank Dr. D. Todd for valuable remarks concerning the centrifugal forces.

References
1. Booy, M. L. Polym Eng Sci 1978, 18, 725. 2. Janssen, L. P. B. M. Twin Screw Extrusion, pp 42 52; Elsevier: Amsterdam, 1978. 3. Meyer, H. E. H.; Elemans, P. H. M. Polym Eng Sci 1988, 28, 275. 4. Rauwendaal, C. J. Polym Eng Sci 1981, 24, 1092. 5. Werner, H., Ph.D. Thesis, Munich University of Technology, West Germany, 1976. 6. Okeefe, J. A. Science 1999, 163, 669. 7. Todd, D. Polym Eng Sci 1975, 15, 437.

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Nomenclature
d D Fd Fp Fr g H m n N Qd Qreal Film thickness (m) Diameter channel (m) Geometry correction factor Geometry correction factor Froude number Gravitation constant (m s2 ) Height of a channel (m) Amount of screws Amount of screw threads Screw speed (rps) Throughput due to the drag ow (m3 s1 ) Real throughput (m3 s1 )

Qos r Re Rs vp vz W x xz

Throughput over the screw (m3 s1 ) Ratio Reynolds number Screw radius (m) Velocity lm element (m s1 ) Velocity lm layer (m s1 ) Channel width (m) x-coordinate channel (m) Filling degree Screw axis distance (m) Tip angle (rad) Viscosity (Pa s) Pitch angle (rad) Density (kg m3 ) Pi (3.1416) Shear stress (Pa)

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