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Size and Structure of Clusters Formed by Shear Induced Coagulation: Modeling by Discrete Element Method

Kroupa, Martin, Vonka, Michal, Soos, Miroslav, Kosek, Juraj
Langmuir 2015 v.31 no.28 pp. 7727-7737
adhesion, coagulation, colloids, dispersions, emulsions, energy, financial economics, fouling, models, particle size, plastic deformation, polymerization, texture
The coagulation process has a dramatic impact on the properties of dispersions of colloidal particles including the change of optical, rheological, as well as texture properties. We model the behavior of a colloidal dispersion with moderate particle volume fraction, that is, 5 wt %, subjected to high shear rates employing the time-dependent Discrete Element Method (DEM) in three spatial dimensions. The Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) theory was used to model noncontact interparticle interactions, while contact mechanics was described by the Johnson–Kendall–Roberts (JKR) theory of adhesion. The obtained results demonstrate that the steady-state size of the produced clusters is a strong function of the applied shear rate, primary particle size, and the surface energy of the particles. Furthermore, it was found that the cluster size is determined by the maximum adhesion force between the primary particles and not the adhesion energy. This observation is in agreement with several simulation studies and is valid for the case when the particle–particle contact is elastic and no plastic deformation occurs. These results are of major importance, especially for the emulsion polymerization process, during which the fouling of reactors and piping causes significant financial losses.