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Silo Flow Patterns: What's the Difference Between Funnel Flow and Mass Flow?

Material Flow Through Storage Silos

Posted by Dennis Blauser, June 1, 2020

Construction, cone angles, and the type of stored material are all factors that influence how material moves through storage silos.

Funnel Flow

Funnel flow silos are usually more cost effective to construct, costing between 20-30% less than mass flow silos, but are not suitable for all materials.

Funnel Flow Silo Diagram

The flow channel drains material in the middle first. As the silo empties, side material flows into the middle channel. Because of this flow pattern, funnel flow silos that are not emptied completely on a regular basis keep stagnant, or dead, material against the silos walls. Without scheduled emptying, this causes material to build up along the silos walls and leads to issues like ratholing or irregular flow.

Taken together, these factors can enhance particle segregation, limit your live capacity, and cause silo failure. Generally, a funnel flow pattern is only suitable for coarse, free flowing, non-degrading solids when segregation is minimal.  

Learn more about Funnel Flow Silos

Mass Flow

Mass flow silos do not experience the same material flow issues as funnel flow silos. Stored materials move down the silo as a column, with no flow channels and the first materials in are the first materials out, providing for a uniform flow.

Mass Flow Silo Diagram

Mass flow is ideal for materials that are susceptible to segregation based on particle size or density, minimized by the first in, first out flow sequence, with the segregated particles remixing as they discharge. It is an ideal flow pattern for coal or other materials that are combustible or perishable.

Learn more about Mass Flow Silos

Funnel flow and mass flow are common silo flow patterns. In addition to these two are expanded flow and fluidized flow patterns. Find out more about the different types of concrete silo flow patterns.  

To learn more, be sure to check out our full library of videos on silo maintenance, inspection and repair on YouTube Channel for Marietta Silos