Industrial slurries transported in pressurized pipelines often consist of particles of broad size distribution. The broad particle size distribution affects slurry flow behavior in a pipe. A four-component model (4CM) predicts the frictional pressure drop in pipe flow of broadly graded slurry. The model considers Newtonian carrying liquid and splits the broadly graded solids into fractions (components) each of which contributes to the pressure drop through its own dominating friction mechanism expressed by a particular sub-model in the 4CM. The sorting of the solids into the components (carrier, pseudo-homogeneous, heterogeneous, fully-stratified) must be based on appropriate criteria. For the sake of simplicity, the 4CM currently uses threshold sizes of particles to split the solids into 4 components.

The goal of the present work is to analyze the existing criteria for the threshold between the pseudo-homogeneous component and heterogeneous component and for the threshold between the heterogeneous component and fully-stratified component. The analysis is based on a description of mechanisms governing particle support (suspension, deposition) of each particular solids component in slurry flow. It shows that the existing grain-size thresholds actually express certain proportions among threshold velocities of flow delimiting different slurry flow regimes. Such threshold velocities are the deposition-limit velocity, the initial-suspension velocity, and the full-suspension velocity. We discuss the proportions and demonstrate how properties (of liquid, solids, flow) and associated parameters additional to the grain size may influence the thresholds.

The analytical results are supported by experimental results for flow of individual components in a laboratory loop.

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