Settling behavior of non-spherical particles in power-law fluids: Experimental study and model development
Zhengming Xu, Xianzhi Song*, Gensheng Li, Zhaoyu Pang, Zhaopeng Zhu
Solid-particle settling occurs in many natural and industrial processes, such as in the transportation of drilling cuttings and fracturing proppant. Knowledge of the drag coefficient and settling velocity of cuttings and proppant is of significance to hydraulics design, wellbore cleanout, and fracture optimization. We conducted 553 tests to investigate the settling characteristics of spherical and non-spherical particles in power-law fluids. Three major particle shapes (spherical, cubic, and cylindrical) and eight different particle sphericities were used to simulate cuttings and proppant, and power-law fluids were applied to simulate drilling and fracturing fluids. Based on the data analysis, a new drag coefficient–particle Reynolds number correlation was developed to determine the drag coefficient in a power-law fluid for spherical and non-spherical particles. The drag coefficient increases as the sphericity decreases for the same particle Reynolds number. For a specific particle shape, the drag coefficient decreases as the particle Reynolds number increases, but the decreasing trend is reduced at high particle Reynolds number conditions. An explicit settling-velocity equation was proposed to calculate the settling velocity of spherical and non-spherical particles in power-law fluids by considering the effect of sphericity. A suitable range for the proposed model is 0.0001 < Re < 200, 0.471 < ϕ < 1, and 0.505 < n < 1. An illustrative example is presented to show how to calculate the drag coefficient and settling velocity in power-law fluids with given particle and fluid properties.
Settling velocity; Drag coefficient; Non-spherical particle; Spherical particle; Power-law fluids