Drag reducing properties of microalgal exopolymers



Dilute aqueous solutions of polymers released by marine phytoplankton (microalgae) were shown to effectively reduce drag in capillary pipe flow. Tests were performed in a capillary turbulent flow viscometer which extruded small samples under high pressures. In all, 22 species were screened, and the products of one chlorophyte and four rhodophyte species proved especially effective. The viscoelastic polymers produced by these species delayed the transition from laminar to turbulent flow to significantly higher Re. In general, polymeric regime segments come off the maximum drag reduction asymptote at characteristic retro-onset points, and come to lie approximately parallel to, but displaced upwards from the Prandtl–von Karman line. The delay to transition was shown to be dependent on additive polymer concentration, capillary diameter, and temperature. Ionic concentration, ionic composition, or pH had little effect on drag reducing properties.