The Peck Lecture Series 2021: “Flow Behavior of Aspherical Particles”

To be presented by Jennifer Sinclair Curtis
October 8, 2021, 3:30 p.m.
Rettaliata Auditorium, Room 104

Jennifer Sinclair Curtis is Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Dean of Engineering at University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on the development and validation of particle flow models which have been extensively adopted by both commercial and open source CFD software packages. She was the first to partner with ANSYS Fluent to greatly expand the multi-phase simulation capability of the code which is used by 96 of the 100 biggest industrial companies in the world and over 40,000 customers. Her particulate flow models are also included in the CFD Research Corporation software package and the open-source CFD code OpenFOAM and MFIX. She is a Fellow of AAAS, ASEE and AIChE. She is recipient of AIChE’s Particle Technology Forum’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar Award, AIChE’s Thomas-Baron Award in Fluid-Particle Systems, ASEE’s Chemical Engineering Lectureship Award, ASEE’s CACHE Award for Excellence in Computing in Chemical Engineering Education, ASEE’s Sharon Keillor Award for Women in Engineering, and the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award. She also received the Van Antwerpen Award – the highest award for service to the Institute by the AIChE Board of Directors. She received her PhD in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and her BS in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University which recently recognized her as a distinguished engineering alumna. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the National Academies’ Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology.


The discrete element method (DEM) is a powerful simulation tool which provides the details of the flow of individual particles and facilitates parametric studies, minimizing or eliminating the need for expensive experimental testing. This presentation will outline advances in DEM to simulate the motion of aspherical particles. Aspherical grains are described either as perfect cylinders or disks of varying aspect ratio or described using a linked and overlapping spheres or sphero-cylinders approach. Using this linked approach, the flow of flexible aspherical particles can also be treated via a bonded particle model which incorporates normal and shear forces as well as bending and torsional moments. The bonded particle model also allows for breakage of aspherical particles during impact. DEM simulations are validated via experiments of hopper flow/discharge, shear stress measurements in a ring shear cell, and uniaxial and triaxial compression tests


Ralph Peck was a dynamic teacher and researcher whose genuine concern for students made him a legendary figure at IIT and in the field of chemical engineering. After receiving his bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota, he introduced his own method of teaching, “the 10-minute quiz,” for which he became famous – or infamous. In 1939, he came to Amour Institute of Technology, now IIT, as an instructor in chemical engineering and quickly moved up the faculty ranks. In 1953, he became chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering at IIT and held that post until 1967. He traveled extensively, introducing his teaching methods and philosophy in India, Brazil, Algeria, Korea, and Japan. He supervised 100 masters and 33 Ph.D. candidates. Four patents were issued in his name. He received the Excellence in Teaching Award from IIT in 1973 and the Western Electric Fund Award for Teaching Excellence for 1975-76 from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). He was a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and a member of the American Chemical Society and ASEE. He passed away in Chicago in 1982.