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Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

(Term Project Report)



Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

A slurry is a thin sloppy mud or cement or, in extended use, any fluid mixture of a pulverized
solid with a liquid (usually water), often used as a convenient way of handling solids in bulk.
Slurries behave in some ways like thick fluids, flowing under gravity but are also capable of
being pumped if not too thick

A mixture of wood pulp and water used to make paper
A mixture of raw materials and water involved in the raw mill manufacture of Portland cement
A mixture of minerals, water, and additives used in the manufacture of ceramics


To determine the percent solids (or solids fraction) of a slurry from the density of the slurry,
solids and liquid

is the solids fraction of the slurry (state by mass)
is the solids density
is the slurry density
is the liquid density
In aqueous slurries, as is common in mineral processing, the specific gravity of the species is
typically used, and since
is taken to be 1, this relation is typically written:

Even though specific gravity with units tonnes/m^3 (t/m^3) is used instead of the SI density unit,

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

Climate change and the need for environmentally responsible, cost effective and efficient
methods of ore and tailings transport place great demands on the mining industry. A growing
number of operations are meeting the challenge by using more hydro transport handling of
solid/liquid mixtures in both short in-plant and long-distance pipelines. This most basic of
techniques combines a number of handling advantages with minimum maintenance and low
environmental impact. But there is still potential for cost savings, innovative application and
transfer of technology, optimizing handling techniques and developing and deploying new
engineering solutions.

Viscosity/flow curve measurement of non-Newtonian materials
Pipeline design for non-settling and settling slurries
Open channel flow of Newtonian and non-Newtonian slurries
Selection and sizing of pumps
Selection of instrumentation for on-line measurement of slurry properties (flow, concentration,
density, viscosity)
Mixer selection and storage tank design
Troubleshooting of the operation of existing plant
Mixing of flocculants and other process chemicals


Particle size in liquid has been measured by Sedimentation techniques (S), Electron microscopy
(EM), Photon Correlation Spectroscopy (PCS), Light scattering systems, Electro zone sensing
(EZS), Sedimentation field flow fractionation (SFFF), Disc Centrifuge (DC), and some other
techniques. Figure 1. Shows the size range capabilities of the various methods.

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries


Capillary hydrodynamic fractionation (CHDF) is a patented technique (US Patent # 5,089,126)
that provides a fast, high resolution particle size measurement that is ideal for CMP slurries.
CHDF is based upon a size exclusion effect which occurs when a dispersion of particles flows
through an open tube or capillary. Colloidal or suspended particles traveling in Laminar flow
through a capillary will be moving radially in the Row due to their random Browian motion. The
fluid in the tube has a parabolic velocity profile, with the greatest fluid velocity in the center and
the slowest velocity near the wall.
The operation of a system based upon CWDF is as follows:
Eluant continuously flows in fractionation capillary
Eluant velocity profile is parabolic (Laminar flow)
Slurry sample is injected into flowing eluent
Large particles exit first
Particle detection is by UV-light extinction
Particle size distribution is calculated from data
Figure 3 shows the block diagram of a system that uses CHDF for particle size determination for
CMP slurries. The modular system uses an eluant delivery pump, a flow splitter, a sample
injection valve, the micro capillary, the recombination or merger valve, the UV-light detector
system, and the PC based analysis computer.

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

Figure 4 shows the graphical output for a sample of CMF1 slurry. Note that the average slurry
size is around loci nanometers. The distribution also shows some smaller, particles around 30
nanometers. This particle sample of CMF slurry shows a good tight particle size spectrum and
no large: particles that could cause scratching of the wafer.

Figure 5 shows the graphical results obtained with a CME slurry identified as Type 2. The
particle size spectrum is radically different from CMP slurry type 1. Note that there is a 100
nanometer peak and a 400 nanometer peak.

The application which involves the largest quantities is the dredging industry, continually
maintaining navigation in harbors and rivers, altering coastlines and winning material for landfill
and construction purposes. As a single dredge may be required to maintain a throughput of 7000
tons of slurry per hour or more, very large centrifugal pumps are used.

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

Every mining and mineral processing industry requires the transport of slurries somewhere in
their process.
The flow of a simple liquid to that of a slurry, i.e. a mixture of solid particles in a carrier fluid,
the need immediately arises for a more precise system of nomenclature. For example, instead of
a single density, p, several densities must now be distinguished. These include the density of the
fluid, pf, that of the solid particles, ps, and that of the mixture Pm. For a very large number of
slurries, the carrier fluid is water, with density of approximately 1000 kg/m^. The symbol pw is
employed in this instance, using pf for fluids of other densities. The value of pw forms the basis
for expressing the relative density or 'specific gravity' of other materials. For example there is a
wide range of applications when the solids being conveyed have a density around 2650 kg/m^, a
typical value for sand, and in this case the relative density, Ss or Ps/pw, is 2.65. Although in
many cases the fluid is standard-density water, this is not always the case. For example in marine
dredging operations, the carrier fluid is sea water, for which the relative density, denoted Sf,
varies from place to place but has a typical value of about 1.03. For a mixture of solids and fluid,
the relative density Sm (i.e. the mean specific gravity of the mixture) is given by the general
Sm = Sf+(Ss-Sf)Cv
where Cy is the volumetric concentration, i.e. the fraction of the mixture volume which is
occupied by the solids. When the fluid is water of standard density, Sf is unity and the equation
for Sm becomes
Sm = l+(Ss-l)Cv
The volumetric flow rate of liquid, Qf, is the product of Vf and the cross sectional area occupied
by the fluid, i.e. (l-Cvi)pi D2/4. Similarly, the volumetric flow rate of solids is VSCVI Pi D2 /4.
The total flow rate of the mixture, Qm, is given by the sum of the fluid and solids flow rates, and
is also equal to piD2/4 times the mean velocity of the mixture.

In specifying concentrations, care is required to distinguish between delivered and in situ values.
The delivered concentration is the fraction of solids delivered from (or fed to) the conveying
system. If the slurry discharged from the system is collected in a tank, then the volume fraction
of solids for the mixture in this tank is the delivered volumetric concentration, denoted Cvd. On
the other hand, the resident or in situ concentration is the average concentration present in the
system, or in some part of it, such as a certain length of pipe. If, say, this length of pipe were
isolated by suddenly closing valves at both ends (ignoring the effects of water-hammer), then the
volumetric fraction of solids in the isolated pipe is the resident or in situ volumetric
concentration, denoted Cvi
The volumetric flow rate of liquid, Qf, is the product of Vf and the cross-sectional area occupied
by the fluid, i.e. (l-Cvi)D2/4. Similarly, the volumetric flow rate of solids is VSCVITID^M. The
total flowrate of the mixture, Qm, is given by the sum of the fluid and solids flow rates, and is
also equal to D2/4 times the mean velocity of the mixture. Thus

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

The delivered volumetric concentration, Cvd, represents Qs/Qm, i-e.

Equation shows directly that the delivered concentration must be less than the in situ value
provided Vs is less than Vm. This condition is described as 'lag', 'hold up' (or, less accurately,
'slip') of the solids. The 'lag' or 'slip' is the velocity difference Vm - Vs, and the lag ratio A is
obtained by dividing this quantity by the mean velocity, i.e.

On this basis Eq. 2.42 is re-written


The properties of slurries depend very strongly on the tendency of the particles to settle out from
the conveying liquid. For transport of settling slurries, an important parameter is the terminal
velocity, Vt, i.e. the velocity at which a single particle settles through a large volume of quiescent
The terminal velocity depends on the liquid properties (pf and |i) on the particle diameter (d) and
its density (ps) and, to a lesser extent, on its shape. For vertical flow of settling slurries the
hindered settling velocity is also of importance. When particles have fully settled, their
concentration, achieved without compacting or vibrating the sediment, is referred to in later
chapters as the 'loose packed' volume fraction, denoted Cvb
Particle sizes are commonly reported as 'screen size', i.e. the opening in a standard sieve or
screen. Particle size distributions are then reported as the fraction (by mass or weight) passing
through one screen in the series but retained on the next. Standard screen series have often been

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

expressed as 'mesh size' based on the number of openings per inch, but openings in mm (or |Lim)
are now in common use.
For particles whose sizes are determined by sieving rather than microscopic analysis, da is
slightly smaller than the mesh size. However, unless the particles are needle-shaped, the
difference between da and the screen opening is relatively small, generally less than 20%. The
shape of the particle is described by the Volumetric shape factor' defined as

The procedure for calculation of terminal velocity is first to use the method presented above to calculate
Vts for the sphere of diameter da and the same density as the particle of interest. The value for the nonspherical particle is then given by

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries


A slurry of small particles (say less than 40 m or 270 mesh, one conventional division between
silt and sand sizes) in turbulent motion tends to behave in a homogeneous fashion.
An aqueous slurry of somewhat larger particles (say 100 m, which is in the fine-sand range)
exhibits somewhat different behavior. If the mean velocity of flow is several meters per second,
particles will be distributed throughout body of the flow by turbulent diffusion, but there will be
a measurable decrease of concentration with height. This type of flow is described as pseudohomogeneous and shares with truly homogeneous flow the property that the pressure gradient
increases with throughput velocity in a fluid-like fashion.
When particle diameters are increased from the small-sand to the medium-sand range (say 400
m), the flow will shift to heterogeneous behavior, with smaller values of Vm producing greater
non-uniformity of solids concentration, and increases in hydraulic gradient beyond that given by


Slurry is any mixture of solid particles and a liquid. Many industrial and mining processes
operate on the basis of a wetted product to facilitate chemical reactions. It is also convenient to
handle bulk materials
In the form of a slurry.
There are many different types of slurry with vastly differing properties. The flow properties are
influenced a number of factors including:
Particle size
Particle shape
Particle concentration
Particle density
Liquid density
Liquid viscosity
Many types of slurry are very abrasive and can be thought of as liquid sandpaper! The abrasive
nature of slurries can be reduced by reducing the flow velocity, however many slurries have a
minimum flow velocity
to avoid deposition of the solid particles.
In comparison to transporting the same mass of dry product, pumping slurry requires the
transport of the dry product as well as the carrier liquid. Therefore the required energy is higher
than moving just the dry product (However it should be noted that most dry transport
mechanisms require high mass carrier systems e.g. rolling stock).
In comparison to pumping water, slurries are usually denser (certainly in mining applications).
The higher density results in a higher pressure to pump up a given elevation. Typically the
friction pressure losses are also higher so a higher pressure is required to pump at a given
velocity over a given distance. Therefore for a given volume a higher amount of work is required
to be performed on the slurry in comparison to water.

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries


The most frequent approach to pumping slurry is to make use of centrifugal slurry pumps. A
rotating impeller is used to impart kinetic energy to the slurry in the same manner as a
conventional water pump. Although this is the most common approach there are a number of
The impeller rotates at high speed in the slurry. The relative velocity between the slurry and the
impeller is very high resulting in high abrasion rates. In order to reduce the effect of the abrasion
the number of impeller vanes is reduced and each vane is thicker in comparison to a water pump.
The result is that the slurry impeller is far less efficient than a water impeller. As the pump
operates the slurry wears the impeller out, resulting in even lower efficiency and high
maintenance costs to replace the impellers periodically. Some impellers are rubber lined which
reduces the efficiency further. As a general rule, the larger the diameter of the impeller the higher
the efficiency of the slurry pump (See fig 1 and fig 2)
As a general process design rule, slurry pumps are designed to be operated to the left of their best
efficiency point i.e. slurry pumps are never selected to operate at their best efficiency point.
Typically the rotational speed of slurry impellers is adjusted by changing ratios of a V-belt drive. Well
maintained V-belt drives can achieve efficiencies of 97%. However in practice such drives are seldom
All centrifugal pumps require a seal where the shaft enters the pump casing. In the case of a water pump
this is achieved rather simply through the use of a gland or a mechanical seal. In the case of a slurry pump
this is far more complex because the slurry erodes the gland. This problem is overcome by injecting high
pressure water into the pump to keep the slurry away from the gland. This requires large quantities of
clean (usually potable) water at pressures higher than the pump discharge pressure. This wastes huge
quantities of potable water, dilutes the slurry, and requires additional power to pump the water into the
seal, and then pump the additional water through the slurry pipeline.

Figure 1. - High Efficiency Water Pump Impeller


Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

Figure 2. - Low Efficiency Slurry Pump Impeller

The efficiency of the impellor and V-belt drive decrease over time due to wear of the
components. The overall efficiency of the pumping system is seldom measured so operators and
maintenance staff do not know the actual efficiency. Slurry pump motors are oversized as a
standard design practice so that there is additional capacity. As the efficiency of the components
drops during operation the excess capacity is utilised without any indication to the operating staff
i.e. more power is consumed but the system still pumps so no action is taken.


The Phoenix solution to slurry pumping is to pump clean water in a closed loop and transfer the
energy from the water to the slurry. The slurry is kept isolated from the water by means of a
highly flexible impermeable bladder. The bladder is housed within a pressure vessel. The same
water is recycled continuously so apart from the initial water charge, the system does not use
water. The water is pumped by a conventional high efficiency water pump (79 83% efficiency).
There is a minor energy loss within the system but overall the slurry is pumped at just below the
efficiency of the water pump. The system can be thought of as a positive displacement pump but
with a water piston. Two vessels are operated simultaneously so that the water pump and slurry
discharge pressure and flow rate remains constant i.e. one vessel is filling with water while the
other is filling with slurry.
The use of a water pump means that:
A very efficient impeller is utilized resulting in a high pump efficiency
V-belt drives are not required so there are no drive losses
Glands are not required with the following advantages:
Gland service water is not required so there is no wastage of potable water
Gland service water pumps are not required
Gland service water pump power is not required
Gland maintenance is eliminated
Solid particles are not accelerated and decelerated through the impeller so
there is no solids derating.
The pump can be selected such that it operates at the Best Efficiency Point
Very high pumping pressures can be achieved through the use of a single
water pump i.e. a single Phoenix Slurry Pump.

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

Slurry velocities are kept very low throughout the system to minimize the
The following figures illustrate the operation of the system. In Figure 7 the system is
shown in a primed state. Slurry is shown in brown while water is shown in blue. The
system is fed gravitationally from a slurry hopper which must be elevated above the
system. Slurry flows into each vessel (Vessel A and B) through a slurry inlet non
return valve for each vessel. The valves are named Slurry Inlet A (SIA) and Slurry
Inlet B (SIB). Slurry outlet valves (SOA and SOB) prevent slurry which has already
been discharged from the system flowing back into the vessels. The static head of
the slurry forces the water out of the bladders and into a water tank. On each vessel
there is a water inlet and outlet valve (WIA, WIB, WOA, WOB). During the prime step
WIA and WIB are closed while WOA and WOB are open to allow the water to flow
into the water tank. The system is controlled using the water valves. Operation of
the water valves controls the flow of the water which in turn controls the flow of
slurry. The slurry valves are simple non return valves which only respond to the flow
of the slurry i.e. close when the slurry flow stops and open when the slurry flows in a
forward direction.

Figure 7. - Phoenix SP P&ID Step 1 Primed

Step 2 is shown in Figure 8. The water pump has been started, WOA and WOB are closed, and WIA is
open. This forces water into Vessel A under pressure which inflates the bladder and thereby pressurizes
the slurry. SIA is closed so the slurry is pumped out SOA and into the slurry discharge line. At the end of
the step Vessel A is completely filled with water. Vessel B is still in a primed state.


Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

Figure 8. - Step 2 pumping through Vessel A, B primed

Step 3 is shown in Figure 9. WIB is open so water is pumped into Vessel B, inflating bladder B and
pumping slurry out of the vessel. SIB is closed so the slurry is pumped out SOB and into the slurry
discharge line. WIA is closed and WOA is opened allowing slurry to flow back into Vessel A and displace
the water from the vessel.

Figure 9. - Step 3 pumping through Vessel B, refilling Vessel A with slurry.


Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

Step 4, the process is repeated by pumping through A and filling B.

In the above explanation the description states that the system switches
directly between the two vessels. The actual operation is slightly more
complex. The vessel that is having water pumped into it is at the pump
discharge pressure, which is the same as the slurry discharge pressure e.g.
16 bar. The vessel filling with slurry is slightly above atmospheric pressure
e.g. 1 bar gauge. Switching directly between the two would result in
enormous pressure transients in the water pump discharge and slurry
discharge. These transients would result in reduced mechanical life of the
pump and pipe work, and reduced pump efficiency. To overcome this each
vessel is pre pressurized or depressurized prior to switching. This takes a
small period of time, and during this time the water pump must continue to
discharge water at constant pressure and flow rate. In order to gain this time,
the vessel filling with slurry is filled at a greater rate than the other vessel is
filled with water. While the one vessel is filled with water, the other vessel is
depressurized, filled with slurry, and pre pressurized. In addition if for
example water was being pumped into Vessel A, as the switch to B takes
place, WIB is opened before WIA is closed. For a short period of time water is
filled into both vessels. The above process is referred to as pressure
The consequence of the time required for pressure balancing is that the
slurry inflow rate must be higher than the slurry discharge rate. The slurry
discharge is continuous while the slurry inflow is discontinuous i.e. it starts
and stops every cycle. This results in the water return to the pump being
discontinuous while the pump discharge is continuous. In order to ensure a
continuous water flow to the pump the water is buffered using a water tank

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries








The bladder is very flexible and operates within a pressure vessel. During
normal operation the bladder is never stretched. The control system must
ensure that the inflow of slurry does not push the bladder out the top of the
vessel and the inflow of water does not push the bladder out the bottom of
the vessel. This is achieved by pumping a fixed quantity of water into the
bladder and then allowing the same quantity of water out of the bladder. The
water quantity is measured using a flow meter. Every flow meter has a
measurement error. Should the effect of the measurement error be
cumulative then the bladder may still be pushed out the top or bottom of the
vessel over a large number of cycles. To overcome this, the bladder is
brought back to a known position on every slurry fill cycle using a component
referred to as a valve tube. When the vessel is filled with slurry the valve
tube prevents further flow of water out and slurry into the vessel. At this
point the water meter is reset to zero. A finite length of time is required for
this operation. The time required to depressurize, pre pressurize, and detect
that the vessel is full of slurry is called the overlap time. The time from when
a vessel is filled with slurry and pre pressurized until the system switches to
the vessel is called the overlap margin. The system is always operated with a
positive overlap margin.
During the slurry fill cycle, the slurry inflow accelerates to a peak flow rate,
maintains the peak flow rate, and then decelerates as the vessel fills, coming
to a complete stop when the vessel is full of slurry. The peak flow rate is a
function of the vertical height between the slurry hopper, the vessels and the
overlap tank. The deceleration phase is controlled by the control system and
The water out valves (WOA and WOB)
The slurry valves simply consist of a polyurethane coated steel ball which
seats on an annular valve seat. The valve seat is positioned horizontally, with
the flow vertically upwards. The valve seat is designed to minimize
deposition on the seat ensuring a drip tight shut off. The ball density is
designed to be higher than the slurry. During zero flow conditions the ball
settles down onto the valve seat due to its higher density. During forward
flow conditions the flow pushes the ball up into the valve housing and
bypasses the ball. When the flow stops the ball settles and then prevents
reverse flow. Due to the operation of the system, the ball never opens or
closes against a differential pressure i.e. the valve is never partially open
under flow conditions. This ensures that there are no high velocities which
result in accelerated wear.


Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

Side view of the first full size unit installed at Doornkop


Figure shows some typical test data during 4 cycles. The top graph shows the slurry inlet pressure. There
are minor transients as the slurry accelerates into the system and decelerates as the system fills.

As mentioned previously the use of a water pump on the Phoenix system means that gland service water
is not required. Gland service water is required to be clean. This either means additional filtering of
process water or the utilization of potable water. Once the water is pumped into the gland it enters the
slurry where it is contaminated by the slurry. This water can no longer be used as potable water. The gland
service water system seldom has measurement instrumentation so the actual utilization of water is
generally unknown. With the Phoenix this water usage is not required. Furthermore the efficiency of the
system is independent of the slurry concentration. This allows the slurry concentration to be increased
within the limitations of the pipeline and the gravitational inflow requirement. This increase in
concentration has a dramatic decrease in the water requirement of the slurry line

Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

As with all new technology there is increased risk in comparison to existing technology. The risk has been
minimized through a long and detailed development process with continual testing of systems.
However the overall risk of any site needs to be considered. The continual use of inefficient systems
which consume large quantities of energy and water place entire sites at far greater risk in an environment
where there is increasing pressure on power and water resources.

Slurry systems has advanced greatly over the last few decades, so that hydraulic conveying systems can
now be designed for much higher efficiency, achieved in part by better control and by operating at higher
solids concentration. Reduced consumption of energy and water represent not only cost savings but also
improvements in environmental performance. Hydraulic transport systems can show greatly reduced
impacts on human health and the environment, by reducing emissions including dispersion of the material
being transported. This is a serious practical concern. Where a particulate material is transported dry, for
example by trucks or belt conveyors, it can become dispersed so that workers and the surrounding
environment, along with any local population, are exposed. In the past decade, approaches to assessing
and managing the environmental performance of industrial processes and products have generally moved
to a life cycle basis; i.e. rather than simply assessing the local impacts of an individual operation or plant
(including fugitive dust emissions and noise) it is now common to include in addition the significance of
materials and energy over their complete supply chains starting from primary resource extraction. This is
the so-called 'cradle-to-grave' approach, embodied in an analytical approach known as Life Cycle
Assessment (LCA). Applying the life cycle approach to mining and mineral processing means allowing
for all the off-site environmental impacts of supplying energy, such as electricity and transport fuels,
allowing for consumption of materials (including water) and for the impacts of waste disposal (including
tailings).Mining and mineral processing clearly come into the supply chains of most manufactured
products; therefore applying LCA to products has in turn directed more attention to the environmental
performance of the minerals sector
Slurry pumping is a very energy intensive process which has traditionally been performed using
centrifugal slurry pumps, which pump at low efficiency, waste water, and are maintenance intensive. The
Phoenix Slurry Pump has been developed to pump high volumes of slurry at high pressure with a very
high overall system efficiency with a low maintenance requirement. Slurry pumping is achieved by
pumping water using an efficient water pump and then transferring the energy to the slurry using a
bladder and vessel arrangement. Two vessels are utilized to achieve a constant water pump and slurry
discharge pressure and flow rate. The system is operated in a manner that ensures smooth switching from
vessel to vessel.


Fluid Mechanics Of Slurries

1. Jackson, Don M., Chemical Mechanical Planarization, A Single Wafer Approach
Semicon/West 1994, Planarization Technology pp. 80- 84
2. http://www.intsps.com/slurry_pump.html#tab4a
3. US. Patent #5,089,126 Method and Apparatus for Hydrodynamic Fractionation.
4. Slurry transport Using centrifugal pumps(k. C. Wilson)
5. slurries in geotechnical engineering(raymond j. krizek)
6. A comparison study of two different methods to synthesize magnetic slurry
for the fabrication of magnetic films
7. Working Points On-line IntelligentOptimization Strategy for Dredging Slurry Pipeline
Zhiyue Bi, Qingfeng Wang, Jianzhong Tang
8. Hybrid Model of an Industrial HDPE Reactor
Kannan M. Moudgalya
9. Novel CMP Slurries for Planarization of Multilevel Copper Interconnect
10. On Extensive Pump Handling of Chemical-Mechanical
Polishing Slurries
11. Ultrasonic Attenuation Spectroscopy Of Industrial Slurries
12. Experimental Study of Magnetic Slurries Regarding Magnetic Properties
12. CMP Slurry Particle Size Spectrometer
13. Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulation Of The Solid-Liquid Slurry Flow In A Pipeline
Tamer Nabil 1, Imam El-Sawaf 2, and Kamal El-Nahhas 3