An experimental study was performed to investigate the influence of fluid elastic properties on the settling velocity of spherical particles in viscoelastic polymer fluids. The Particle Image Shadowgraph (PIS) technique was used to measure the settling velocity of the spherical particles (with average diameter of 2mm) in the hydrolyzed poly acrylamide (HPAM) polymer test fluids.

Test fluids were prepared by mixing 3 different grades of HPAM (with molecular weights of; 500,000; 8,000,000; and 20,000,000) at polymer concentrations of 0.09 and 0.1% by weight. Shear viscosity and oscillatory measurements were carried out to characterize the test fluids.

The test fluids were formulated in such a way that they had almost identical shear viscosity characteristics while showing significantly different elastic properties. The relaxation time was used to quantify the elastic characteristics of the fluids.

To quantify the impact of elasticity, the experimentally measured settling velocities were compared to the values calculated by using the model developed for predicting settling velocity of spherical particles in power law (visco-inelastic) fluids [1]. Experimental results indicated that the settling velocity of spherical particles in visco-elastic fluids decreased significantly with the increasing elasticity (measured in terms of relaxation times) of the fluids.

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