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Experimental Measurement of the Solid Particle Concentration in Geophysical Turbulent Gas‐Particle Mixtures


Dilute gas-particle mixtures in which the particles are carried by the turbulent fluid are found in various geophysical contexts, from cold snow avalanches to hot pyroclastic density currents. Though previous studies suggest that such mixtures have maximum particle concentrations of a few volume percent, the dependence of this maximum concentration on the Reynolds number is unclear. We addressed this issue through laboratory experiments in a vertical pipe, where dilute gas-particle mixtures were created by injecting a turbulent air flow from below. Nearly monodisperse mixtures of glass beads of different grain sizes (77 to 1,550 μm) were used with varying bulk concentrations from 0.025 to 8 vol. %. To create quasi-static mixtures, the mean air velocity matched the terminal settling velocity for the grain sizes investigated. The maximum Reynolds numbers of the mixtures were ~104–106. The air pressure indicated full support of the particle weight at concentrations down to 0.025 vol. %. Above a critical particle concentration, at which all the particles were suspended, subsequent additional particles were not maintained in the mixture and led to the formation of clusters that settled downward in the pipe to form a dense fluidized bed. Maximum mean particle concentrations of the dilute mixtures increased from ~1 to ~2.8 vol. % and reached a plateau at increasing mixture Reynolds number. These results give insights into the maximum particle concentrations of geophysical turbulent gas-particle mixtures and may serve to constrain observations as well as the input and output data of models.

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