Using Virtual Reality to Visualize the 3D Pathline of Individual Particles in a Double Screw Mixer
Granular flows are found in many industries including food processing, pharmaceutical production, and energy generation. Understanding particle-particle mixing is important for process modeling and optimization. Recent work has used X-ray particle tracking velocimetry (XPTV) to characterize the threedimensional (3D) granular flow structures in a double screw mixer. However, visualizing the experimental 3D data can be challenging. This study uses virtual reality to allow a user to “walk through” the intermeshing screws of a simulated double screw mixing process and watch individual particles as they travel through the mixer. As the particle moves through the mixer, a particle path line is used to follow its movement. The virtual environment allows the user to view the particle from any direction using the physical movement of his or her body, augmented by a Wii remote for navigation beyond the physical space. The Wii remote also provides options to pause or reverse, to zoom in or out, and to slow down or speed up particle motion. Furthermore, the interaction code is flexible enough to allow other input devices, such as the Microsoft Kinect sensor and voice recognition, to control the system. The virtual reality environment provides researchers with a novel method to visualize the mixing process to gain unique insight into particle movement through a double screw mixer.