Particle-laden thin-film flow in helical channels with arbitrary shallow cross-sectional shape

D. J. Arnold, Y. M. Stokes, J. E. F. Green

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Particle-laden flows in helical channels are of interest for their applications in spiral particle separators used in the mining and mineral processing industries. In this paper, we extend the previous work of Lee, Stokes, and Bertozzi [“Behaviour of a particle-laden flow in a spiral channel,” Phys. Fluids 26, 043302 (2014)] by studying thin-film flows of monodisperse particle-laden fluid in helically wound channels of arbitrary centerline curvature and torsion and arbitrary cross-sectional shape. In the case where the particles are uniformly distributed through the depth of the film, significant analytic progress can be made yielding insight into the influence of channel geometry on particle distribution across the channel cross section: the governing equations reduce to a single nonlinear ordinary differential equation, which is readily integrated numerically to obtain the solution subject to appropriate boundary conditions. Motivated by possible application to the design of spiral separators, we consider the effects of changing the channel centerline geometry, the cross-sectional shape and the particle density on the resulting flows, and the radial distribution of particles. Our results support the findings in the work of Arnold, Stokes, and Green [“Thin-film flow in helically wound rectangular channels of arbitrary torsion and curvature,” J. Fluid Mech. 764, 76–94 (2015)] regarding the effect of channel centerline geometry and cross-sectional shape on flows in particle-free regions. In particle-rich regions, similar effects are seen although the primary velocity is lower due to increased effective mixture viscosity. Of key interest is the effect of channel geometry on the focusing of the particles for given fluxes of fluid and particles. We find that introducing a trench into the channel cross section, a feature often used in commercial spiral particle separators, leads to a smaller radial width of the particle-rich region, i.e., sharper focusing of the particles, which is consistent with experiments showing that channel geometry influences particle separation in a spiral separator.
Original languageEnglish
Article number073305
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


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