Abstract In this work, a new drag model for TFM simulation in gas–solid bubbling fluidized beds was proposed, and a set of equations was derived to determine the meso-scale structural parameters to calculate the drag characteristics of Geldart-B particles under low gas velocities. In the new model, the meso-scale structure was characterized while accounting for the bubble and meso-scale structure effects on the drag coefficient. The Fluent software, incorporating the new drag model, was used to simulate the fluidization behavior. Experiments were performed in a Plexiglas cylindrical fluidized bed consisting of quartz sand as the solid phase and ambient air as the gas phase. Comparisons based on the solids hold-up inside the fluidized bed at different superficial gas velocities, were made between the 2D Cartesian simulations, and the experimental data, showing that the results of the new drag model reached much better agreement with experimental data than those of the Gidaspow drag model did.