The UK nuclear industry has in its inventory legacy waste in the form of complex, polydisperse and “polydense” suspensions, slurries and sludges in a variety of storage and transport vessels. This waste has been difficult to characterise because of radioactivity and limited accessibility, and conditioning and disposal of the waste presents a continuing challenge. In addition, the mechanisms by which very dense particles are transported in pipes are not well understood. Our objectives are to investigate the effect of mono- and bidisperse suspensions with a range of particle sizes and densities on the turbulence characteristics, transport and settling behaviour of slurries that are chosen to be analogues of those found on nuclear sites. Two versatile slurry pipe-flow loops of different diameters have been commissioned which can be operated over a large range of Reynolds numbers and are amenable to ultrasonic measurement methods. Details of the flow loops are presented, including optimisation studies. Results are presented for a variety of particle characterisation studies that have been performed on the particle species that form the suspensions, along with mean and RMS (root mean square) velocity profiles over a range of Reynolds number and particle concentration. In particular, the effect of particle concentration on the formation of settled beds, and mean flow velocity and turbulence characteristics has been investigated.

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