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Numerical simulations of a sphere settling through a suspension of neutrally buoyant fibres

  • OLIVER G. HARLEN (a1), R. R. SUNDARARAJAKUMAR (a2) and DONALD L. KOCH (a2)

Abstract

The sedimentation of a small dense sphere through a suspension of neutrally buoyant fibres is investigated via a numerical simulation technique that includes both fibre–fibre contact forces and long-range hydrodynamic interactions. In situations where the diameter of the sphere is smaller than the length of the fibres, calculations that exclude the effect of contacts between fibres severely underestimate the drag force on the sphere measured in experiments. By including fibre–fibre contacts in our simulations we are to able to account for this discrepancy, and also the strong dependence of the drag on the initial orientation of the fibres. At low and moderate values of nL3, where n is the number of fibres per unit volume and L the fibre length, hydrodynamic interactions are found to be important in moderating the effect of contacts between fibres.

An asymptotic solution is presented for the limit when the sphere diameter is much smaller than both the fibre length and inter-fibre spacing, but large compared to the fibre thickness. This is found to be in good agreement with the simulations.

Results of calculations on sedimentation through a monolayer of fibres are also presented, as a model of a semi-concentrated suspension. Collisions between fibres are much more frequent, due to the geometric confinement.

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Numerical simulations of a sphere settling through a suspension of neutrally buoyant fibres

  • OLIVER G. HARLEN (a1), R. R. SUNDARARAJAKUMAR (a2) and DONALD L. KOCH (a2)

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