When considering pumping shells through a pipeline we have to consider that the shells are not spherical, but more discs shaped. When shells settle they will settle like leaves where the biggest cross section is exposed to the drag. But when they settle, they will settle in the same orientation, flat on the sediment, so the sides of the shells are exposed to the horizontal flow in the pipeline. Since the side cross section is much smaller than the horizontal cross section, a much higher velocity is required to make them erode and go back into suspension. The settling velocity is much smaller because of the large area of the cross section. Even when the slurry velocity exceeds the settling velocity, there will always be some shells that will reach the bottom of the pipe due to the combination of settling velocity and turbulence. Once these shells are on top of the sediment they are hard to remove by erosion, because they lay flat on the surface and have a small cross section that is exposed to the flow compared with the weight of the shell. So although their settling velocity is much lower than equivalent sand particles, the erosion velocity is much higher. If we look at the beach in an area with many shells, we can always see the shells on top of the sand, covering the sand. In fact the shells are shielding the sand from erosion, because they are hard to erode. The bigger shells will also shield the smaller pieces, because the smaller pieces settle faster. Compare this with leaves falling from a tree, the bigger leaves, although heavier, will fall slower, because they are exposed to higher drag. The same process will happen in the pipeline. Shells settle slower than sand grains, so they will be on top of the bed (if there is a bed), just like on the beach. Since they are hard to erode, in fact they protect the bed from being eroded, even if the line speed is increased. The combination of high erosion velocity and the shell ‘protecting’ the bed means that even a small amount of shells can lead to relatively thick bed in the pipeline. But there will always be velocities above the bed that will make the shells erode. The paper describes the settling and erosion process of shells and the consequences of this on the critical velocity when pumping a sand/shell mixture through a pipeline. A mathematical model of the processes involved will be presented.

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