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Drag reduction of nata de coco suspensions in circular pipe flow

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Jun Warashina and Satoshi Ogata
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo 192-0397, Japan

There has been a growing interest in adding drag-reducing agents to reduce pipe friction and hence
energy consumption. Additives such as polymers, surfactants, and fibers are well-known drag-
reducing agents. However, these additives have some limitations, such as being restricted for use in a
closed-circuit pipeline system. Furthermore, they require careful disposal to prevent the drained
solutions from contaminating the rivers and soil because their fibers are made of synthetic chemicals.
In contrast, naturally occurring additives are considered to have a low environmental load. Therefore,
research on drag reduction by naturally occurring additives is becoming increasingly important.
Recently, nata de coco has been attracting attention as a drag-reducing additive. Nata de coco is
expected to reduce drag by a large extent because its structure is similar to that of drag-reducing
polymers; moreover, it also has the potential to exhibit low mechanical degradation because of the
high mechanical strength of its filaments.
The dispersed state of fibers in a fiber suspension greatly influences drag reduction. However, the
relationship between the dispersed state of nata de coco and drag reduction is currently unknown.
Therefore, a major goal of research has been to reveal the influence of the dispersed state of nata de
coco suspensions on drag reduction by measuring the pressure loss and visualizing the dispersed
Experiments were conducted by measuring the pressure drop of a fluid in straight circular pipes
(inner diameter d = 15 mm) in a pipeline flow loop. The tested nata de coco suspension, which was
made from commercial sources, was immersed in tap water to remove sugar, mechanically pressed ,
and then dried. The test additives were prepared by mixing the dried nata 30
de coco and tap water in a blender. Then, the suspensions were
conditioned by injecting additives to the tap water circulated at a constant 20 Re = 22000
DR (%)

flow rate (Re = 22000) through a pipe. The experiments were carried out
by varying the scattering time to investigate the relationship between the 10

time of scattering in the blender and the drag reduction.

Fig. 1 shows the relationship between scattering time and drag
reduction. Drag reduction is observed for scattering times of about 1 to 4 0 2 4 6 8 10
T (min)
min, although it is not observed in the case of long (more than 5 min) or
short (less than 1 min) scattering times. This implies that the dispersed Fig. 1 Effect of scattering
state of nata de coco has a large influence on drag reduction. time on drag reduction
Subsequently, drag reduction increased by up to around 25% when the
concentration of the suspensions (conditioned by injecting additives to the
tap water circulated) was increased to 50 ppm. With regard to the
mechanism of the relationship between the drag reduction and the
dispersed state, Fig. 2 shows a micrograph of nata de coco fibers taken
after an experiment in which drag reduction was observed. The figure
reveals that a large network of fibers formed when drag reduction
occurred. Such a network is not formed when drag reduction does not
occur. Furthermore, drag reduction tends to increase as the scale of this
network increases. Studies are presently being conducted to examine the Fig. 2 Micrograph of nata de
conditions for network formation and the mechanisms of drag reduction coco fibers
through the use of high-speed cameras.

Keywords: Pressure loss, Visualization, Turbulent drag reduction, Nata de coco suspension

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