Assessment of gel formation in colloidal dispersions during mixing in turbulent jets



Onset of gel formation upon mixing between colloidal dispersions and coagulant solutions in turbulent jets was studied using a combination of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and population balance equation (PBE). To describe the interaction between turbulence fluctuations and particle aggregation, a micromixing model based on presumed probability density function was implemented inside the CFD code. Furthermore, effect of the solid phase on the fluid flow was modeled through an effective viscosity of the mixture evaluated from PBE. The results are presented in the parameter space of the primary particle diameter and the solid volume fraction where strong interplay between mixing and aggregation mechanisms controls the gelation phenomena and consequently also the fluid dynamics. Simulation results are in good agreement with observations from gelation experiments of concentrated nanoparticle suspensions injected into coagulant solutions. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 59: 4567–4581, 2013