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Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Oct 20;97(16):168001. Epub 2006 Oct 17.

Analytical approach to continuous and intermittent bottleneck flows.

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1
Dresden University of Technology, Andreas-Schubert-Strasse 23, Dresden, Germany.

Abstract

We propose a many-particle-inspired theory for granular outflows from a hopper and for the escape dynamics through a bottleneck based on a continuity equation in polar coordinates. If the inflow is below the maximum outflow, we find an asymptotic stationary solution. If the inflow is above this value, we observe queue formation, which can be described by a shock wave equation. We also address the experimental observation of intermittent outflows, taking into account the lack of space in the merging zone by a minimum function and coordination problems by a stochastic variable. This results in avalanches of different sizes even if friction, force networks, inelastic collapse, or delay-induced stop-and-go waves are not assumed. Our intermittent flows result from a random alternation between particle propagation and gap propagation. Erratic flows in congested merging zones of vehicle traffic may be explained in a similar way.

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