Friday, October 22, 2021

In a mixed bag of nuts, the big ones end up on top. Here’s how

A brand new experiment reveals, in a nutshell, why the biggest particles in some mixtures have a tendency to assemble on the top.

This phenomenon is named the Brazil nut effect, since jostling combined nut packages tends to carry cumbersome Brazil nuts to the highest. The impact may also be seen in cereal packing containers and even space rocks (SN: 8/15/14). Understanding how it works may assist producers to create more uniform mixtures of elements for meal processing, or more even distributions of lively elements in drug tablets, researchers report April 19 in Scientific Reports.

The Brazil nut impact has been robust to crack as a result of it’s troublesome to trace how particular person objects transfer round in the midst of a mix, says Parmesh Gajjar, an imaging scientist at the University of Manchester in England. Using X-ray CT scans, Gajjar and colleagues adopted the movement of particular person peanuts and Brazil nuts in a field because it was shaken forwards and backward — creating the primary 3-D movies of the Brazil nut impact in motion.

In the movies, the Brazil nuts, which are rectangular, largely laid horizontally once they had been first dumped into the container. But because the field shook, collisions between nuts nudged a number of the Brazil nuts to level more vertically. That vertical orientation opened up the area for the smaller peanuts larger within the combination to tumble down and accumulate on the backside, pushing the Brazil nuts upward.

While this discovery may fulfill the curiosity of combined nut aficionados, that’s peanuts in comparison with the sensible use it may have for the pharmaceutical business.

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