A numerical study of the settling of non-spherical particles in quiescent water

Xiaoyong Cheng, Zhixian Cao, Ji Li, Alistair Borthwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Settling of non-spherical particles is poorly understood with previous studies having focused mainly on spherical particles. Here, a series of particle-resolved direct numerical simulations are conducted using FLOW-3D (commercial computational fluid dynamics software) for spheres and five regular, non-spherical shapes of sediment particles, i.e., prolate spheroid, oblate spheroid, cylinder, disk, and cube. The Galileo number varies from 0.248 to 360, and the particle Reynolds number R e p ranges from 0.002 77 to 562. The results show that a non-spherical particle may experience larger drag and, consequently, attain a lower terminal velocity than an equivalent sphere. If R e p is sufficiently small, the terminal velocity is less affected by particle shape as characterized by the particle aspect ratio. For relatively large R e p , the shape effect (represented by the Corey shape factor) becomes more significant. Empirical correlations are derived for the dimensionless characteristic time t 95 ∗ and displacement s 95 ∗ of particle settling, which show that t 95 ∗ remains constant in the Stokes regime ( R e p < 1) and decreases with increasing R e p in the intermediate regime (1 ≤ R e p < 10 3), whereas s 95 ∗ increases progressively with increasing R e p over the simulated range. It is also found that in the Stokes regime, particle orientation remains essentially unchanged during settling, and so the terminal velocity is governed by the initial orientation. In the intermediate regime, a particle provisionally settling at an unstable orientation self-readjusts to a stable equilibrium state, such that the effect of initial orientation on the terminal velocity is negligible. Moreover, an unstable initial orientation can enhance the vertical displacement and may promote vortex shedding.

Original languageEnglish
Article number093310
Number of pages47
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number9
Early online date20 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Sept 2023


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