Results of a flume experiment and numerical model of plastic accumulation in front of a plate are presented. The single phase CFD-DEM model formed a successful benchmark case to model plastic accumulation inside an ocean cleanup system.

A fixed wooden plate was placed in a steady cross flow and plastic was released upstream of it. We recorded the evolution of the plastic accumulation profiles under slowly increasing plastic load. Experimental parameters were the flow velocity, draft of the plate (varying the plate Froude number) as well as three different types of plastic particles. The accumulation of oil in front of barriers and parallels to the phenomena of plastic accumulation were reviewed.

As a second part of the project we used the open source CFD-DEM code CFDEM® to reproduce the flume experiment. It couples the discrete element method (DEM) software LIGGGHTS® and the open source computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software OpenFOAM®.

A linear relationship of the relative depth of the accumulation with the Froude number of the plate was found for a given type of particle and reproduced in the numerical model. We identified limitations of the experimental setup, calibration experiments and the single phase CFD-DEM approach and outlined the steps for further research.

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