ABSTRACT

In recent years, there has been an increasing demand for efficient mixers with high-quality mixing capabilities in the rubber product industry, with the focus of producing fuel-efficient tires. Depending on the functional characteristics of the tire and thus the compounding ingredients, different types of mixers can be used for the rubber mixing process. Hence, the choice of an appropriate mixer is critical in achieving the proper distribution and dispersion of fillers in rubber and a consistent product quality, as well as the attainment of high productivity. With the availability of high-performance computing resources and high-fidelity computational fluid dynamics tools over the last two decades, understanding the flow phenomena associated with complex rotor geometries such as the two- and four-wing rotors has become feasible. The objective of this article is to compare and investigate the flow and mixing dynamics of rubber compounds in partially filled mixing chambers stirred with three types of rotors: the two-wing, four-wing A, and four-wing B rotors. As part of this effort, all the 3D simulations are carried out with a 75% fill factor and a rotor speed of 20 rpm using a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code. Mass flow patterns, velocity vectors, particle trajectories, and other mixing statistics, such as cluster distribution index and length of stretch, are presented here. All the results showed consistently that the four-wing A rotor was superior in terms of dispersive and distributive mixing characteristics compared with the other rotors. The results also helped to understand the mixing process and material movement, thereby generating information that could potentially improve productivity and efficiency in the tire manufacturing process.

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