Mesostructure Evolution During Powder Compression: Micro-CT Experiments and Particle-Based Simulations
Powders under compression form mesostructures of particle agglomerations in response to both inter- and intra-particle forces. The ability to computationally predict the resulting mesostructures with reasonable accuracy requires models that capture the distributions associated with particle size and shape, contact forces, and mechanical response during deformation and fracture. The following report presents experimental data obtained for the purpose of validating emerging mesostructures simulated by discrete element method and peridynamic approaches. A custom compression apparatus, suitable for integration with our micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) system, was used to collect 3-D scans of a bulk powder at discrete steps of increasing compression. Details of the apparatus and the microcrystalline cellulose particles, with a nearly spherical shape and mean particle size, are presented. Comparative simulations were performed with an initial arrangement of particles and particle shapes directly extracted from the validation experiment. The experimental volumetric reconstruction was segmented to extract the relative positions and shapes of individual particles in the ensemble, including internal voids in the case of the microcrystalline cellulose particles. These computationally determined particles were then compressed within the computational domain and the evolving mesostructures compared directly to those in the validation experiment. The ability of the computational models to simulate the experimental mesostructures and particle behavior at increasing compression is discussed.