Effect of flake shape on packing characteristics of popped popcorn

Jess C. Sweley, Devin J. Rose*, Xiaodong Jia, Richard A. Williams, David S. Jackson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to determine to role of flake shape on the packing characteristics of popped popcorn. Unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral popcorn flakes, named for the direction of expansion of the popcorn flake, were digitized and packed into a virtual conical frustum-shaped container using a digital packing algorithm to simulate particle packing. Corresponding laboratory experiments were also conducted. Number of flakes required to fill the container agreed between simulated and laboratory experiments (r = 0.996; p < 0.0001) and ranged from about 340 for 50% bilateral +50% multilateral to >600 for 100% unilateral. Statistical modeling revealed 36.9% bilateral +63.1% multilateral would minimize the number of flakes required to fill the container. Packing fraction varied from ρ = 0.14 for 10% unilateral +75% bilateral +15% multilateral to ρ = 0.28 for 100% unilateral shape. These results offer insights into the packing characteristics of irregularly-shaped materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-79
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Food Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Flakes
  • Irregular
  • Modeling
  • Packing fraction
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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