Shear thickening in dense suspensions driven by particle interlocking

M Blair and C Ness, JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS, 948, A48 (2022).

DOI: 10.1017/jfm.2022.720

The processing of dense suspensions is a crucial step in many industries including mining; the production of ceramics; and the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. It is widely reported that these suspensions exhibit nonlinear behaviours such as shear thinning and thickening, with particle surface contacts recently being accepted as a primary culprit in the latter. In light of this, the modelling community have started to explore the role of particle surface tribology, predominantly by incorporating Coulombic friction models borrowed from the field of dry granular matter. Full details of the interactions between particle surfaces remain unclear, however, and it is suggested that physical interlocking of particle asperities may be key. Here, we use particle- based simulations to explore explicitly the effect of interlocking on the rheology of dense suspensions of micron-sized solids in a Newtonian fluid. Our simplified model recovers shear thinning, thickening and jamming phenomena commonly seen in experiments.

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