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Kynch - A Theory of Sedimentation

Kynch - A Theory of Sedimentation

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A
THEORY
OF
SEDIMENTATION
BY
G.
J.
KYNCH
Department of Mathematical Physics, The University, Birmingham
Received 22nd
May,
1951
;
in
fimZ
form, 6th September,
1951
The theory assumes that the speed of fall of particles in a dispersion is determined bythe local particle density only. The relationship between the two can be deduced fromobservations on the fall of the top of the dispersion.
It
isshown that discontinuouschanges in the particle density
can
occur under stated conditions.
1. INnioDumoN.--The process of sedimentation of particles dispersed ina fluid is one of great practical importance, but it has always proved extremelydifficult o examine it theoretically. The hydrodynamical problem of one particlefalling through a fluid has been solved (Stokes' law), and a formula has beenobtained by Einstein,l Smoluchowski and many others when the density ofparticles is very small and their distance apart is much greater than their size.This formula states that the speed of fall is
v
=
u(l
-
rp)
(1)
where
a
=
2.5
for hard spheres,
u
is the Stokes' velocity, and
p
is the volumeconcentration. The same problem has never been satisfactorily solved whenthe density of particles is great. In fact no theory has yet been given which evensuggests
how
to interpret the experimental results when the concentrations arerelatively large.In this paper it is hoped to remedy this particular omission by showing thata considerable amount can
be
learned by the single main assumption that at anypoint in a dispersion the velocity of fall of a particle depends only on the localconcentration of particles. The settling process is then determined entirely froma continuity equation, without knowing the details of the forces on the particles.We find that the theory then predicts the existence of an upper surface to the dis-persion in the liquid and that the motion
of
this surface together with a knowledgeof the initial distribution of particles is sufficient to determine the variation ofthe velocity of fall with density for that particular dispersion.
A
complication which is dealt with fully, as far as fairly uniform initial dis-tributions are concerned, is that due to the formation and existence of layerswhere the density suddenly changes its value. Observations of dispersionssuggest that these do occur in dilute solutions, and it is satisfactory that thetheory not only predicts their occurrence but gives in addition the necessaryconditions to be satisfied. Using these results we are able to suggest variousquite different modes of settling which may occur. It is fortunate that we canhandle the discontinuities without knowing the precise mechanism by whichthey are maintained. This mechanism is indeed a subject for further examina-tion. This aspect of the process
is
also discussed in detail because the mathe-matical technique of using the characteristics of
a
partial differential equation,as the density lines are technically called, is not one which is generally knownto chemists.The assumption that the local conditions determine the settling process is by nomeans necessary. Changes in particle density are propagated through a dispersionjust as sound is propagated through air, and it is only if either the speed ofpropagation is relatively slow or the damping
is
great that our assumption can
166
   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   d  a   d  e   F  e   d  e  r  a   l   R  u  r  a   l   d  o   R   i  o   d  e   J  a  n  e   i  r  o  o  n   0   3   N  o  v  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   1   P  u   b   l   i  s   h  e   d  o  n   0   1   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   1   9   5   2  o  n   h   t   t  p  :   /   /  p  u   b  s .  r  s  c .  o  r  g   |   d  o   i  :   1   0 .   1   0   3   9   /   T   F   9   5   2   4   8   0   0   1   6   6
View Online / Journal Homepage / Table of Contents for this issue
 
G.
J.
KYNCH
167
be justified. Until the details of the forces
on
the particles can be specified it isimpossible to state when our hypothesis is valid, even for a dispersion of identicalparticles. It is probably true for dilute or concentrated ones but not for thoseof intermediate concentrations. Nevertheless the theory is a first step in theanalysis of experimental data. The velocity against concentration curve deducedfrom one experiment by this theory is a property of that particular dispersion.Unless the dispersion can be accurately reproduced it may not be obtained againin exactly the same form, but the character of each curve could
be
a
guide to amore detailed knowledge of the types of particle which occur in the dispersionor to the physical and chemical processes which occur, when a comparison betweena number of curves can be made.We leave further discussion of this and of other assumptions made in thispaper and the lines on which extensions to the theory might be made, until thelast section, when the method of treating the problem has been outlined on detail.consider the settling of a dispersion of similar particles. It is assumed that thevelocity
v
of any particle
is
a function only of the local concentration p of particlesin its immediate neighbourhood. The concentration here means the number ofparticles per unit volume of the dispersion.
As
the particles have the same sizeand shape it is proportional to the volume fraction. It is convenient to introducethe particle fluxwhich is the number
of
particles crossing
a
horizontal section per unit area perunit of time. It is assumed everywhere that the concentration is the same acrossany horizontal layer. The particle flux
S
therefore at any level determines, oris determinzd by, the particle concentration.
As
p increases from zero to itsmaximum value pm he velocity
v
of fall presumably decreases continuously froma finite value
u
to
zero. The variation of
S
is more complicated, but a simple vari-ation is assumed in the following sections for convenience of exposition.Let
x
be the height of any level above the bottom of the column of dispersedparticles. If
S
varies with x the concentration must vary as well and, in a regionwhere the variation is continuous, the relation between the two is called thecontinuity equation. Consider two layers at x and
x
+
dx.
In time dt the ac-cumulation of particles between the two is the difference between the flow ofparticles
S(x
+
dx) in through the upper layer and the flow
S(x)
out through thelower layer, per unit area.
2.
CONTINUITY
EQUATION
AND
LINES
OF
CONSTANT
CONCENTRATION.-we
s
=
pv,
(2)
d
-
pdx)dt
=
S(X
+
dx)dt
-
S(x)dt.atDividing by dxdt, we derive the continuity equation
JP
-
3s
3t
ax'
-_-
On
account of the relation
(2)
this is written as
JP
2
V@)-
=
0,
at
3X
(3)
(4)
where V(p)
=
-
dS/dp.
(5)
This equation is interpreted in the following way. On a graph where position
x
is plotted against time t, curves are drawn through points with the same value ofthe concentration. The co-ordinates
(x,
t)
and
(x
+
dx,
t
+
dt) of two adjacentpoints on such a curve are related by the equationP(X
+
dx,
t
+
dt)
=
p(~,),3P 3P
ax
at
i.e.
-dx
+
-dt
=
0.
   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   d  a   d  e   F  e   d  e  r  a   l   R  u  r  a   l   d  o   R   i  o   d  e   J  a  n  e   i  r  o  o  n   0   3   N  o  v  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   1   P  u   b   l   i  s   h  e   d  o  n   0   1   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   1   9   5   2  o  n   h   t   t  p  :   /   /  p  u   b  s .  r  s  c .  o  r  g   |   d  o   i  :   1   0 .   1   0   3   9   /   T   F   9   5   2   4   8   0   0   1   6   6
View Online
 
168
THEORY
OF
SEDIMENTATION
Combining eqn.
(4)
and (6) the slope of such a curve is given byAs
p,
and therefore
V,
is
a constant along the curve, it must be a straight line.Therefore, on an
x
against
t
diagram, the concentration is constant along straightlines whose slope
V
depends only on the value of the concentration. One suchline passes through every point in the diagram below the top of the dispersion,and in
a
region where the density is continuous the correct pattern of lines is suchthat no two lines intersect. This simple result forms the basis of our analysis
of
the settling process using this diagram. It can be expressed in another form,which is discussed more fully in
$4.
This states that a particular value of the con-centration is propagated upwards through the dispersion with a velocity
V
givenby eqn.
(5).
mentation process in detail for a dispersion where the initial concentration in-creases towards the bottom and
V
decreases with increasing
p
in the concentrationrange covered during the settling. The reasons for these limitations appear later.The
x
against t diagram, together with lines of constant concentration forsuch a process. is shown in fig.
l(a).
These lines have been drawn accordingto the following arguments. The initial values
of
the concentration determine
p
along the x-axis. Then
a
line
KP
of constant concentration has a slope dx/dt
=
V
determined by
p
at the point
K
where it intersects the x-axis. If the top of thedispersion
is
at
x
=
H,
and the concentration increases from
p
=
pa
at
x
=
H
to
p
=
pb
where
x
=
0
in a known manner, then all the lines crossing the
x-axis
can be drawn. Since
V
decreases with increasing
p
they diverge as they leave thex-axis. The line
OB
in fig.
l(a)
is the line of concentration
pb.
The equation ofany line
KP,
which crosses the x-axis at
XO,
the value of
x
where the concentrationis
p
at
t=
0,
is
(84
if
pa
<
p
<
pb.
Since
xg
is a known function of
p
this equation gives the con-centration at any point
x
in the dispersion at time
t,
provided that
(x,
)
lies inthe regionAOB.We now calculate where these lines
of
constant concentration terminate, thatis to say, the position of the curve
AB
representing the fall of the top of the
dis-
persion. At any point
P,
since the speed of fall of the surface is that of the par-ticles in
it,
then along
AB
Expressing
p
in terms of
x
and
t
by means
of
eqn.
(8a)
we obtain
a
differentialequation for
x
in terms of
t
which can be integrated to give the curve of fall.However, the following method leads to the integral in a more direct manner.The line
KP
represents the rise through the dispersion with velocity
V
of alevel, across which particles of concentration
p
fall with velocity
~(p)
ownwards.In time
t
from the start the number of particles which have crossed this levelis
p(V
+
v)t
per unit area. The level reaches the surface at the point
P
when thisnumber equals the total number of particles
It
originally above the level
K.
Usingthe initial distribution
of
particles this isdx/dt
=
V(p).
(7)
3.
THE
EDIMENTATION
OF
A
DISPERSION.-In this section we describe the sedi-
x
=
xo
+
VG)t
(dxldt)
=
-
(p).
(9)
H
xo
n(xo>
=
1
pdxo.
(1
04
(1
la)
We thus derive the equationwhere
n
can be expressed as a function of
p.
To
determine the co-ordinates
of
P(x,
t)
in the surface we now have two equations
(8a)
and
(lla).*
*
The fall
of
any other layer of particles
not
at the
top
can
be
found in the same way,using instead
of
n
the amount
of
material above the levelxo and
below
the
given
layer.
n(xo)
=
p
.
(V
+
v)t,
   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   d  a   d  e   F  e   d  e  r  a   l   R  u  r  a   l   d  o   R   i  o   d  e   J  a  n  e   i  r  o  o  n   0   3   N  o  v  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   1   P  u   b   l   i  s   h  e   d  o  n   0   1   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   1   9   5   2  o  n   h   t   t  p  :   /   /  p  u   b  s .  r  s  c .  o  r  g   |   d  o   i  :   1   0 .   1   0   3   9   /   T   F   9   5   2   4   8   0   0   1   6   6
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