The type of particulate systems encountered in legacy nuclear waste slurries is highly complicated, with the aggregation and flow behaviour being at times very variable. However, deconstructing the complex overall slurry activity to singular particle-particle interactions can lead to a greater understanding of the mechanisms involved with particle aggregation, and so to predictions of their settling and flow in nuclear systems. Of particular importance to legacy waste is the role of salts in controlling the attraction of particles (and so in dictating the rheological properties of the system) as sludge may contain a variety of specific ions and generally have high ionic conductivity [1]. In this paper, particle-particle interactions are characterised using a number of complimentary methods, and their influence on resulting flow and bed compression is measured. The methods used to characterise the particle-particle interactions under various salt and pH conditions were electroacoustic analysis (zeta potential) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Following on from the analysis of particle-particle properties, bulk sediment behaviour was investigated using shear and compressive yield stress measurements, vital parameters in dictating flow and dewatering performance, respectively. Together, these techniques enable the characterisation of a range of particulate systems that may be encountered in legacy wastes, and results point to a number of important factors that can help explain the observed variability in industrial slurry behaviour.

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