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Longitudinal instability of slurry pipeline flow


This paper deals with the flow of solid/liquid mixtures through long-distance pipelines. Such flows can be destabilized by the formation of local plugs which may impede or even block the flow. Plugs may develop at the interface between regions of different mean concentration. The driving force for the development of such plugs is the existence of local gradients of the axial flux of solids.

A mathematical model is developed which describes this mode of plug formation in slurry pipelines. Several assumptions and approximations enable us to reduce the 3D continuity equation of the solid particles to an effective 1D-equation that contains a concentration-dependent flux function. The latter equation is solved numerically.

Illustrative calculations lead to the conclusion that the accumulation of material in a plug does not con- tinue without limit but instead levels off at values that are pumpable under most practical conditions, provided that a certain margin of overdesign is in place.

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