The plug flow of paper pulp suspensions
The investigation reported in this thesis is part of a programme of research concerning the flow behaviour of paper pulp suspensions commenced at the University of Auckland in 1969. A primary aim of the research was to supply the industry with reliable pipe friction data for the pulps manufactured in New Zealand mills. Secondly, it was hoped to increase the fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of flow of the suspensions in pipes and so devise a more satisfactory method of correlation than the one used at present.
Pipe friction data were obtained for two N.Z. groundwood pulps, two N.Z. Kraft pulps and one imported Kraft pulp in 1, 2, 3 and 4 inch pipes for a wide range of consistencies and velocities. The data were of the same form as previously reported in the literature, but for a given set of conditions the friction losses were lower for the N.Z. pulps. For Kraft pulps the curves of head loss versus velocity exhibited the usual maxima and minima, but for groundwoods the decrease in head loss from the maximum to the minimum and the subsequent rise were replaced by an approximately level portion.
The data in the regime before the maxima in the head loss curves for Kraft pulps were correlated to allow extrapolation to the larger pipes used in the paper mill. This regime incorporates the majority of practical flow situations for consistencies over two per cent. The limits of the regime were approximately defined by values of the dimensionless friction factor. The correlation method used was a slight modification of that employed by previous authors. The data for groundwood pulps were correlated in a similar way. The head losses predicted by the new correlations were consistently lower than those calculated from previous equations.
Observation of the flow in perspex pipes confirmed the mechanisms of flow proposed by some previous authors, but disagreed with the mechanisms proposed by others. The mechanisms of flow of groundwood pulps were found to be essentially similar to those of Kraft pulps except that the groundwoods exhibited a plug cleavage phenomenon at very low velocities. The different shapes of friction curve for the two types of pulp were attributed directly to their macroscopic properties.
A flow model was developed on the basis of the observed flow behaviour in pipes in which the suspensions move as a fibre/water plug surrounded by a sheared water annulus. The model assumed that the annulus formed as a result of the action of the hydrodynamic shear stress on the fibre network comprising the plug. The analysis resulted in an expression relating the average velocity and the longitudinal pressure gradient in the pipe and also incorporated the pipe radius, the viscosity of the suspending medium ? and a pseudo shear modulus for the fibre network G. The plug flow model was found to apply to the data in the regime before the maximum in the head loss curve. The relation between the pressure gradient and the pipe diameter as predicted by the model was slightly erroneous for some pulps, although it was the same as that in the standard empirical correlation used in design by the industry. This led to the conclusion that the deflection of fibre ends on the plug surface also contributed to the formation of the annulus, as proposed by previous authors. The relative importance of the two mechanisms of annulus formation was used to explain the occurrence of the maxima and minima in the head loss curves for chemical pulps.
The plug flow model was found to be closely related to both the direct correlation method used in the past and to the standard pseudoplastic model for non-Newtonian pipe flow.
The model was also applied to analogous flow in a rotational viscometer. The values of the pseudo shear modulus G calculated from the rotational viscometry data were the same as those calculated from pipe flow data under certain conditions. However, limitations in the equipment and the effect of gravitational settling restricted the results to a narrow range.
The behaviour of the pulp suspensions in batch settling tests varied markedly from pulp to pulp. There was a high correlation between the pseudo shear modulus G obtained from pipe flow data and the final height of the suspension in a settling test. Likewise there was a relationship between the effective viscosity of the suspending medium ? (as modified by the proportion of fines in the pulp) and the initial settling rate in a batch test. This suggested that a simple and accurate method of determining pipe friction data from batch settling test data is possible. Settling tests also showed that air content and the presence of acidic and basic ions, but not the viscosity of the suspending medium, increased the strength of fibre networks.
A further correlation method to incorporate all flow regimes was suggested from the results of the present investigation and from indications in the literature that fibre networks behave like Bingham plastics when they are sheared.