Possibilities and Limits of Computational Fluid Dynamics-Discrete Element Method Simulations in Process Engineering: A Review of Recent Advancements and Future Trends

Annu Rev Chem Biomol Eng. 2020 Jun 7;11:397-422. doi: 10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-110519-075414. Epub 2020 Mar 13.


Fluid-solid systems play a major role in a wide variety of industries, from pharmaceutical and consumer goods to chemical plants and energy generation. Along with this variety of fields comes a diversity in apparatuses and applications, most prominently fluidized and spouted beds, granulators and mixers, pneumatic conveying, drying, agglomeration, coating, and combustion. The most promising approach for modeling the flow in these systems is the CFD-DEM method, coupling computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for the fluid phase and the discrete element method (DEM) for the particles. This article reviews the progress in modeling particle-fluid flows with the CFD-DEM method. A brief overview of the basic method as well as methodical extensions of it are given. Recent applications of this simulation approach to separation and classification units, fluidized beds for both particle formation and energy conversion, comminution units, filtration, and bioreactors are reviewed. Future trends are identified and discussed regarding their viability.

Keywords: CFD-DEM; computational fluid dynamics; discrete element method; fluidization; granular dynamics; particulate flow.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bioreactors
  • Gases / chemistry
  • Hydrodynamics*
  • Models, Theoretical*


  • Gases