Mathematics Applied in Science and Technology.

Volume 2, Number 1 (2010), pp. 71–80
© Research India Publications
http://www.ripublication.com/mast.htm
ANew Non-linear Parabolic Equation Describing
Centrifugal Segregation of Particles in a Fluid
D. O. Besong
Imperial College London, Department of Earth Science and Engineering
Abstract
In this work, a nonlinear parabolic equation is developed, describing the centrifu-
gal segregation of particles in a fluid. The general form of this equation has been
listed in a very useful work on nonlinear PDEs, but this particular equation is not
mentioned under equations of that general form. This equation describing the cen-
trifugal segregation of particles is new, to the best of our knowledge. We consider
only mono-disperse spherical particles in an isothermal fluid in a 1-D system in the
derivation of our equation.
AMS subject classification:
Keywords:
1. Introduction
Centrifugal systems have been used to study segregation in various areas of science. In
medicine, Constandoulakis et al. [2] observed the separation of erythrocytes (i.e. particle
separation) in blood by centrifugation, while in petroleum engineering, Ratulowski et al.
[11] studied the separation of miscible hydrocarbons by using a centrifugal force as a
substitute for gravitational force. In metal casting, Fu and Xing [3] as well as Panda et al.
[9] have studied the effect of a centrifugal force on the extent that a steel roll segregates
during casting. Fu and Xing [3], as well as Panda et al. [9] analyzed the effect of a
centrifuge to the segregation of particles in molten metal during metal casting through
mathematical modelling. Moreover, Panda et al. [9] found an expression of the position
of a single particle with time, based on the centrifugal force.
Under zero acceleration, Fu and Xing [3] and Panda et al. [9] expressed the velocity
v of each particle as a result of the centrifugal force as
v = Wr, (1.1)
35K55, 70–02, 70–08, 35–01.
Centrifuge, Particle Segregation, First Principles, Derivation of
Nonlinear Equation.
72 D. O. Besong
where
W =
2a
2
ρω
2

, (1.2)
where ρ is the density of pure solid minus that of pure liquid (kgm
−3
), a the radius of
the suspended particles (m), r the distance (m) of the particle from the axis of rotation,
ω the rotational speed (rad s
−1
), and η the dynamic viscosity of the fluid medium (Pa.s).
Assuming laminar flow, Panda et al. [9] performed force balance on a particle in a
fluid in centrifuge. This resulted in a second-order ordinary differential equation with
time t as the independent variable and radial position of particle r(t ) as the dependent
variable. Solving for r(t ), Panda et al. obtained the position of a particle at any time [9]
r(t ) = R
0
e
Wt
, (1.3)
where W is given in equation (1.2), R
0
is the position of the particle at time t = 0. We
see that at large time, r will be at infinity. It is our desire to derive an equation that can
model real speed rolls where r is always finite that drove us to derive the new equation.
Gutierrez et al. [5] obtained the position r(t ) of the particle by finding the general
solution of the second-order differential equation mentioned in the above paragraph.
This resulted in [5]
r(t ) = A
1
e
α
1
t
+A
2
e
α
2
t
, (1.4)
where α
1
and α
2
are the solutions of the characteristic equation of the second-order
differential equation [5]. Analysis shows that with the the particle density greater than
that of pure fluid (i.e. ρ > 0), α
1
and α
2
are real and of opposite signs. The constants
A
1
and A
2
depend on the initial position of the particle, and imposing that at t = 0,
∂r
∂t
= 0 [5].
Gutierrez et al. [5] found an analytical expression for r(t ) for an initially uniform
distribution of particles in the fluid by considering the initial position of the different
particles as random numbers [5]. So they generated random numbers representing the
initial positions of the uniformly distributed particles, and found the position of each
of these particles by equation (1.4). Then they repeated the process with many random
particles and found the spatial distribution of particles at any particular time t . Gutierrez
et al. [5] Panda et al. [9] offer an important way of solving for the position of each
particle, which has been very beneficial to the centrifugal casting of matrix composites,
but an equation has not yet been derived to fully describe the transient concentration of
the particles in space. An advantage of an equation is that it is more efficient to solve
numerically since only the volume-fraction of the particles is solved for, rather than for
the position of many random particles at each time t . In this work, we derive such an
equation so that any consistent boundary condition can be imposed.
It is useful to derive partial differential equations to describe physical phenomena
both in and outside the laboratory. Polianin [10] presents an up-to-date collection of
nonlinear partial differential equations that arise inmathematics andphysics. Anequation
describing the centrifugal segregation of particles would be desirable so that simulations
A New Non-linear Parabolic Equation Describing Centrifugal Segregation 73
Figure 1: Particle distribution after after 50 seconds of centrifuge.
representative of laboratory experiments can be carried out, especially when a numerical
method must first be done in order to find the required rotational speed in the laboratory
or industry.
1.1. Analaytical Solution of Gutierrez et al.
Gutierrez et al. [5] generated random numbers representing the initial positions of the
uniformly-distributed particles, and using equation (1.4) plotted the number of particles
at each position along a cylinder filled with aluminium melt. At a constant temperature
of T = 660

C, the liquid (molten metal) density is ρ
L
= 2.4g cm
−3
, the density of each
particle is ρ
s
= 3.19g cm
−3
and the liquid viscosity η = 1.38 mPa ·s. The distance from
the near end of the cylinder to the axis of rotation was R
0
= 19.50 cm, and the far end
was R = 32.00 cm from the rotational axis. In the model of Gutierrez et al., the cylinder
was rotated at a constant rotational speed of ω = 250 RPM (rotations per minute). The
average radius of each particle was a = 3.75 × 10
−4
cm. Figure 1 is the solution after
50 seconds, from an initially uniform distribution [5].
2. Mathematical Formulation
The particles in a fluid column free from external forces are subjected to Brownian
motion which tends to even out the particle distribution, as well as gravity segregation
which tends to separate the particles to the bottom of the column if they are denser than
the liquid (and vice-versa).
74 D. O. Besong
Brownian motion is governed by the diffusion equation. The volume flux of particles
due to Brownian motion is given by (see for instance [1], [8])
J
D
= −D
∂n
∂z
or J
D
= −Dn
t
∂u
∂z
, (2.1)
where z is the spatial coordinate (directedupward), Dthe diffusioncoefficient, n
t
the total
number of particles per volume at the point z (both solid and supposed fluid
1
particles),
n the number of solid particles per volume at point z and u the volume-fraction of the
solid at point z.
Einstein had derived the diffusion coefficient of suspended particles in a fluid based
on Stokes law and the Boltzmann law [7], given by
D =
kT
6πηa
, (2.2)
where T is the constant fluid temperature (K) in an isothermal container, k the Boltzmann
constant (in J.K
−1
), η the dynamic viscosity of the fluid medium (Pa.s), and a the radius
of the suspended particles (m).
Besong [1] derived a flux J
G
for the gravity segregation of particles. He derived an
expression for the gravity flux identical to the one earlier proposed (e.g. [12], [4]) and
hence validated the previous claims from first principles. The gravity flux for particles
in terms of volume-fraction of the particles is (see for instance [1], [12] and [4])
J
G
=
4
3
πa
3
nD
kT
· ρ(1 −u)g =
4
3
πa
3
un
t
D
kT
· ρ(1 −u)g (2.3)
since the number of solid particles per unit volume n = un
t
. Besong added the two
fluxes and derived a conservation equation as follows:
n
t
∂u
∂t
= −
∂J
D
s
∂z

∂J
G
s
∂z
. (2.4)
Since the system is assumed incompressible, and the fluid is considered as particles of
same radius as the solid particles, the total number of particles (fluid and solid) per unit
volume is constant everywhere. Therefore the n
t
’s cancel out leading to
∂u
∂t
= D

2
u
∂z
2
+
4
3
πa
3
D
kT
ρg

∂z
[u (u −1)] , (2.5)
which is the segregation-mixing equation of particles under gravity forces. Here, ρ is
the density of pure solid minus that of pure liquid (kgm
−3
), a the radius of the suspended
particles (m), g the acceleration due to gravity (ms
−2
) and t the time (s). The derivation
of equation 2.5 is elaborated in this work for revision purposes only, but it can be found
in [1].
1
To visualize n
t
, the fluid is imagined as made of fluid particles of the same size as the solid particles
[1].
A New Non-linear Parabolic Equation Describing Centrifugal Segregation 75
2.1. The Derivation of the Equation for Particle Segregation in a Centrifuge
Besong [1] has clearly presented a derivation for the volume flux J
G
of particles in
a colloid due to gravity under the following assumptions (some of these assumptions
mentioned in [4], [7], [6], [13]):
i All particles behave as in a dilute particle system, so that they do not exert forces
on each other.
ii The velocity of the particles depends only on the local particle density.
iii No wall effects.
iv All particles are of the same size and are spherical in shape.
v The particle size is small compared with the container.
vi There is no bulk motion. In the case of bulk motion, the gravity flux would be
resolved only relative to the bulk velocity.
With the same assumptions applied for the gravity segregation of particles or centrifu-
gal segregation, an analogical derivation as in [1] obtains a similar expression but with
the centripetal acceleration ω
2
r instead of g, and −r instead z for gravity. In centrifugal
segregation, −r is analogous to z because both the centrifugal force and r are oriented in
the same direction, whereas in the gravitational case g and z are in opposite directions.
The derivation performed by substituting g in the flux due to gravity (equation (2.3)) by
ω
2
r, and the space variable z by −r results in the volume flux of particles due to the
centrifuge, given by
J

= −
4
3
πa
3
un
t
D
kT
· ρ(1 −u)ω
2
r. (2.6)
The group of parameters
4
3
πa
3
un
t
D
kT
· ρr =
2a
2
ρω
2
r

= v (see equation 1.1).
Summing J
D
and J

and then applying mass conservation within a control volume
(as in equation (2.4)) and simplifying, the n
t
s cancel out leading to
∂u
∂t
= D

2
u
∂r
2

4
3
πa
3
D
kT
ρω
2

∂r
[ru (u −1)] . (2.7)
Letting α =
4πa
3
3kT
ρω
2
, the centrifugal segregation-mixing equation of particles in a
fluid medium is given by
∂u
∂t
= D

2
u
∂r
2
−αD

∂r
[ru (u −1)] , (2.8)
76 D. O. Besong
hence
∂u
∂t
= D

2
u
∂r
2
−αDr

∂r
[u (u −1)] −αDu (u −1) . (2.9)
In order to identify the general form of equation (2.9) on the list of nonlinear PDEs
presented in [10] let us write equation (2.9) as
∂u
∂t
= D

2
u
∂r
2
+f (r, u)
∂u
∂r
+g(u). (2.10)
where f (r, u) = −αDr

∂u
u(u −1) = −αDr(2u −1) and g(u) = −αDu(u −1).
Polianin [10] lists various parabolic PDEs with one space variable as equations of
the form
∂u
∂t
= D

2
u
∂z
2
+f (z, t, u)
∂u
∂z
+g(z, t, u) (2.11)
(i.e. with the general formof equations (2.10)) or (2.11). However, among the equations
listed under parabolic equations of the form of equations (2.10)) or (2.11), none of them
have f (z, u) = −αDz(2u − 1) and g(u) = −αDu(u − 1) as in the newly-derived
equation. Moreover, no connection has been made between centrifugal segregation and
the general form (equations (2.10)) and (2.11)).
3. Results and Discussion
In this section, we present the results of the finite difference simulation of equation (2.9)
at various times. We compare the result at t = 50 seconds to that of Gutierrez et al. [5].
Since the molten metal is in a closed cylinder, the boundary condition we used is that
of zero-flux at the boundaries:
D
∂u
∂r
−αDru (u −1) at r = R
0
and r = R (3.1)
Gutierrez et al. [5] applied a uniformdistribution, but they did not mention the initial
concentration. We prefer to use an initial condition of uniform equal volume fraction of
liquid and solid particles for our simulation of equation (2.9), i.e. u
0
= 0.5. Figure 2
shows the numerical solution of equation (2.9) at various times, using the same data as
Gutierrez et al. [5].
If we assume that the cross-sectional area Aof the cylinder perpendicular to the radial
direction is 1cm
2
, then our initial number of particles is given by
N =
A
4
3
πa
3

32
19.5
udr (3.2)
For particles of radius a = 3.75 × 10
−4
cm, we have N =
10
12
4
3
π ×3.75
3
× 6.25 =
2.8 × 10
10
particles. In our simulation, this number stayed constant at all time-steps,
A New Non-linear Parabolic Equation Describing Centrifugal Segregation 77
Figure 2: Numerical simulation of the derived PDE.
Figure 3: Comparison between the derived PDE and that of Gutierrez after 50 seconds.
since equation (2.9) was derived from conservation laws and there was no flux at the
boundaries (equation 3.1). The number of particles in the whole body of molten metal has
to de conserved. One great disadvantage of just making do with a differential equation
of the spatial position of the particles as done by Gutierrez et al. is that the particles will
not be conserved within the molten metal, as we shall show. Another great advantage
of the new nonlinear pde is is that at each time-step only the volume-fraction for say 21
grid-points are solved for, whereas with the method used by Gutierrez et al., the position
of each of the 2.8 × 10
10
particles have to be simulated as random numbers therefore
numerically inefficient.
3.1. Comparison with the Solution of Gutierrez et al.
Figure 3 compares the numerical simulation of equation (2.9) to the analytical solution
of Gutierrez et al. [5].
To allow for a consistent comparison, we assume that 150 particles in [5] (see figure
1) is equivalent to complete segregation (i.e. a volume fraction of 1). This is because
78 D. O. Besong
the concentration of the uniform initial distribution was not revealed in [5], nor the
cross-sectional area of the cylinder. The cross-sectional area of the cylinder would be
necessary to transform number of particles to volume-fraction. As said above, let us
assume the cross-sectional area was 1 cm
2
.
The large deviation between the simulation of the newly-derived equation and that
of Gutierrez et al. [5] can be attributed to the following reasons:
i In [9] and [5] no boundary condition was possible to implement at the boundaries
of the cylinder, which means in their solution, particles closer to the far boundary
(i.e. at r = R = 32.00 cm) would go out of the cylinder. In our equation, there
was a zero-flux boundary condition and so all the particles are conserved in the
fluid. Consequently the solutions have to be different.
ii The analytical solutions in [9] and [5] (see equations (1.3) and (1.4)) mean that at
large time all the particles would have position r = ∞. Therefore even at small
time, the particles initially close to the far boundary are lost. However, if complete
separation occurs at the steady state of new equation, all the particles still in the
cylinder (see figure 2).
iii All the above points imply that the particles were not totally conserved in the
solution represented in [5], figure 1, whereas the number of particles is conserved
with the new equation when no-flux boundaries are imposed. The centrifugally-
induced flux of the particles in equation (2.9) has threshold solid volume fractions
(i.e. J

(u) = 0 when u = 0 or when u = 1). This is a necessary property of
a segregating flux which does not allow for non-physically valid concentrations.
In the solution of Gutierrez et al. [5], the motion of the particles were only
characterized by a constant velocity v. In that case, even if some sort of numerical
barrier were to be imposed at the outer boundary where r = R, particles would
keep piling at the boundary above physically possible numbers. Therefore the
results would still be different from our simulation
Since our simulation is conservative, any solution for the same problem which is
not conservative will differ from our simulation. However, there is a common trend
between our solution and that of Gutierrez et al. [5], of the progressive segregation of
the particles from the fluid. The solution of Gutierrez et al. [5] offered a qualitative
study of the variation of the distribution of particles in a centrifuge at a time when an
equation closely describing the phenomenon was not available. The new PDE derived
in this work from conservation principles offers an enhancement in the modelling and
mathematical analysis of the centrifugal segregation of particles.
4. Conclusions
Anew nonlinear parabolic equation describing particle segregation in a centrifugal sys-
tem is derived. The derived equation (equation (2.9)) has not yet appeared in literature,
A New Non-linear Parabolic Equation Describing Centrifugal Segregation 79
to the best of my knowledge. To the best of my knowledge, an equation has not been doc-
umented to fully describe the centrifugal segregation of particles in a fluid. The general
form (equation (2.10)) of the newly-derived equation has appeared in literature [10], but
none of the particular equations resembles the newly derived equation (equation (2.9)).
Even the most recent contributions to the field of centrifugal segregation [5], [3] and [9]
did not implement this equation, nor cited any previous work that did so. I think that this
connection with such a useful physical system will add one more important equation to
the list listed presented by Polianin [10]. The new equation will be useful in modelling
the centrifugal segregation of particles.
5. Future Work
An analytical solution of equation (2.9) for the no-flux boundary conditions in this work
would be desirable. This work can also be extended to poly-disperse particles. An
analytical solution for this problem with other boundary conditions in finite space would
also be desirable.
References
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[2] M. Constandoulakis and H.E.M. Kay. Observations on the centrifugal segregation
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