Another Fascinating Exhibit To Help You See Through The Dust

 

New settling and sedimentation exhibit at the Damen Dredging Experience
New settling and sedimentation exhibit at the Damen Dredging Experience

Sometimes, explaining a part of the dredging process can be as simple as seeing through the mixture. In this exhibit we can demonstrate what happens beneath the surface of the cargo in the hopper1,2,3. Along the way, we explain some quirky behaviour in other phases of the dredging process, also. The exhibit consists of five tubes in a frame, that can rotate around a horizontal axis. In the tubes are various types of soils. Each with their own settling behaviour. The exhibit was recently added to the Damen Dredging Experience. One more reason to highlight it here.

Samples in the settling and sedimentation exhibit
Samples in the settling and sedimentation exhibit

One major part in the dredging process is the hydraulic transport of particles in a carrier fluid. Pickup and transport have been touched upon in previous posts4,5. Here we concentrate on the end of the process: settling and deposition. This can be either in a hopper or on the discharge area. In both cases you will only see the fluid surface during the process and at best the top of the deposited sediment. How the material came there, was deposited and stacked up can’t be readily seen. As the tubes allow these processes to be observed from the side, we can follow the events.

Multi fraction sediment after settling
Multi fraction sediment after settling

The exhibit can be started by upending the frame with the tubes. The material that sat in the lower end gets now on the top end. They all are released at the same time and we see immediately see the differences in settling velocity for the different particle sizes6. The gravel falls down within ten seconds. The sand is slower and the clay even has problems getting started. One nice observation is the mixture of soils. Against the height of the tube, the fractions in the sample are released simultaneously. Still, the fractions separate over the fall height and stack up again in their original order. This not only happens in the tube. In the hopper or the discharge area, a widely graded sediment will sort itself to the various fractions.

Table of irregular shapes (Source: Wikipedia)
Table of irregular shapes (Source: Wikipedia)

Although for all the samples the particles are released simultaneously, you can still see a slight difference in settling velocity within each sample. This can be either due to slight variations in size that are possible within each mesh size used for sieving. Another cause for the differences might be the differences in shape. A perfectly spherical particle will have a faster settling velocity than an oddly shaped potato7.

Explanation of terminal velocity and hindered settling
Explanation of terminal velocity and hindered settling

And even then, the initial particles that fall down have a greater velocity than the particles in the bulk of the sample, even when having the same particle size and shape. This is due to the water flowing up around the particle. The upward flow is slowing down an adjacent particle. This interaction is called ‘hindered settling’. At high concentrations this can contribute to the efficiency of pipe line transport8. But for the settling it is really hindering the loading time.
At the very end of the settling, the particle gets deposited at the bottom, or on top of another. The water that is caught in between has to escape. This causes one last puff of fluid to flow upward and take the very find dust present upward. This happens with each particle that settles and causes the layer of dust to lift to the surface of the deposited sediment. So even when loading a cargo of gravel, you will always end up with a layer of dust on top. So, don’t judge the quality of the cargo just by the dust you see on top. Take a deeper sample or base your evaluation on the signals from the sensors from the screening tower.

Full cargo load of gravel, covered with dust. And the seagulls know that the dust layer also collects all the snacks
Full cargo load of gravel, covered with dust. And the seagulls know that the dust layer also collects all the snacks

References

  1. Hopper Loading: What Happens Beneath the Surface, Discover Dredging
  2. Graduation of Ben Sloof: Hopper Loading Model and Overflow Losses, Discover Dredging
  3. IADC Young Author Award for 1DH Hopper Loading Model of Jordy Boone, Discover Dredging
  4. Loose Sand, How Hard Can it Be? Discover Dredging
  5. Graduation of Arend van Roon: Detecting Flow Regime And Optimising Transport Efficiency, Discover Dredging
  6. Terminal velocity, Wikipedia
  7. Sphericity, Wikipedia
  8. Slurry Transport Fundamentals, Limit Deposit Velocity Framework – 2nd Edition, SA Miedema

See also

Graduation of Arend van Roon: Detecting Flow Regime And Optimising Transport Efficiency

Arend van Roon defending his graduation thesis
Arend van Roon defending his graduation thesis

Our first happy event this year is the graduation of Arend van Roon. He recently graduated on a project in the slurry test circuit at our Research and Development department at Damen Dredging Equipment1. His research was an interesting investigation in the detection of flow regimes. It gives some insight in the processes involved in the transport of water-solids mixtures. Let me share some details from the background with you, as I think this might be helpful for your own operation also.

Overview of the Damen Dredging Equipment slurry pumping test circuit
Overview of the Damen Dredging Equipment slurry pumping test circuit

At first sight, it is hard to imagine, how something heavier than water, the grains, can be lifted when the fluid is moving. Sape Miedema has written the standard on mixture transport in his book ‘Slurry Transport’, explaining his approach with the ‘Delft Head Loss & Limit Deposit Velocity Framework2’. Without going into the academic details, I will try to help you grasp the gist of the phenomena.

DHLLDV book (Credit: Sape Miedema)
Slurry Transport text book cover (Credit: Sape Miedema)

First the grains have to be picked up. When they are lying on the bottom of the pipe, they are fully immersed, surrounded by the fluid on all sides. The free fluid on top and the pore water between the grains under and on the side of the grains. Now comes Bernoulli’s trick. When the fluid in the pipe starts moving, he says that the local dynamic pressure decreases, while the static fluid in the pores remains at the same pressure. The pressure difference between the pressure in the pores and in the moving fluid, pushes the grains out of the bed into the fluid.

Grain pickup and suspension process explained
Grain pickup and suspension process explained

Once the particles are in the fluid are in the fluid, they should stay suspended, or they fall back into the bed. The driving force here is the turbulence in the fluid. Usually dredging slurry mixtures are turbulent. This turbulence causes the fluid to flow in eddies. These are little vortices that generally move in the direction of the flow, but in a moving frame of reference tumble in all directions. Mmh, as they rotate in all directions, why don’t they cancel each other out? Now, imagine being a particle yourself, surfing on those eddies. When it is in a fluid, it tends to sink with a certain settling velocity. Independent of the local movement of the fluid. This means, that on the downward side of the eddy, the particle has a higher total velocity than on the upward side. As the eddy is sort of symmetric, the particle dwells longer in the upward draft than on the downward fall. In this infinitesimal time difference, the eddy transfers some extra kinetic energy from the fluid to the potential energy of the particle. As this loss of kinetic energy is compensated by an increase in pressure (remember Bernoulli) carrying grains in a fluid increases the pressure loss in the slurry transport.

Flow regimes and excess hydraulic gradient requirements in dredging slurry transport (Credit: Sape Miedema)
Flow regimes and excess hydraulic gradient requirements in dredging slurry transport (Credit: Sape Miedema)

This turbulence is in short the background of suspension in the slurry transport process. Depending on al the various governing parameters: densities, viscosity, diameters, velocities etc, the equilibrium of forces result in several different regimes in the slurry flow. Ranging from homogeneous, through stratified to ultimately a static bed. Each with their own particular pressure losses. And that is what we are interested in. On our dredges, we want to transport as much material to the least amount of energy3. We are constantly looking for improvements in our equipment and sensors to assist the operator in visualising and controlling the actual state of his process4. Thanks to Arend’s project and the promising results, we can set the next step in our product development.

Explanation on slurry flow conditions, critical speed and specific power consumption
Explanation on slurry flow conditions, critical speed and specific power consumption

References

  1. Innovation, Damen
  2. Slurry Transport: Fundamentals, A Historical Overview & The Delft Head Loss & Limit Deposit Velocity Framework 2nd Edition, TU Delft
  3. Innovations In The New MAD Series To Increase Uptime And Reduce Fuel Consumption, Discover Dredging
  4. Dredging Instrumentation, Damen

See also

Increase Your Dredging Knowledge At The End Of The Discharge Line

Keeping watch at the end of the discharge pipe line
Keeping watch at the end of the discharge pipe line

Solving something at the end of the pipe is usually a less desired approach. However, in dredging, it is the place where the valuable stuff is delivered, it might be a good place to start monitoring your process. Let me explain this to you by going back to latest discussed exhibit at the Damen Dredging Experience1.

Pump power exhibit at the Damen Dredging Experience
Pump power exhibit at the Damen Dredging Experience

You might have observed in the pictures of the pump power exhibit, that the velocity of the water flow is indicated by the parabolas of the trajectory. The arc of water is bound by gravity and obeys this trajectory always; independent of the density of the mixture. The two equations of motion can be combined, where the time parameter falls away and the height for a certain distance is only depending on the initial horizontal velocity2. As such, it is fairly accurate indication of the pipe flow. The calculation is universally applicable on earth and the results can be presented in a very simple graph to take with you. Every parabola is labelled with the corresponding horizontal velocity.

Nomogram to find end of pipe velocity
Nomogram to find end of pipe velocity

The above example is a straightforward method to measure the mixture velocity. The US Geological Survey even extended this approach as a standard method to measure the production of wells3. The resulting nomogram has a slightly different layout, as it is intended for finding the production instead of the velocity. For production planning, this will be useful. For monitoring your dredging process, the velocity might be more important. Both approaches of this elegant method do have the benefit, that there is no obstruction needed as in the case of an orifice measurement4.

Nomogram to find the end of pipe production
Nomogram to find the end of pipe production

There is an unconfirmed anecdote that my old professor de Koning started his career as a velocity measurer. In the old days, when he was working as a twelve year old boy with the dredging company of his father. He was assigned to keep watch at the end of the pipe and monitor the mixture pouring out. He had a simple beam with a plumb bob. The beam was moved along the top of the pipe, until the plumb bob was touching the arc of mixture. On the beam were two markings. When the beam was moved in and passed the first mark, the mixture velocity was too low and a red warning flag had to be displayed. If the beam had to move out and the mixture velocity was too high at the second mark, a green flag had to be flown. There was also another white flag, in case only water came on the reclamation area. With this very simple setup, the dredge master could check through his binoculars what the state of the dredging process was.

Working principle and explanation of end of pipe meter
Working principle and explanation of end of pipe meter

They were clever in those days. But the physics still apply. So, even today, one might have a situation, where there is no electronic velocity measurement available (broken, not supplied, not (yet) purchased) and you have to push the limits of the operating envelope of the dredging process. Then, there is probably always somebody around that might be appointed volunteer to be head of the velocity measurement crew. Who knows, he might have a bright future in the dredging academia.

Professor de Koning of the dredging chair at the TU Delft (1981-1993)
Professor de Koning of the dredging chair at the TU Delft (1981-1993)

References

  1. Presenting Pump Power Peculiarities, Playing With Pumps And Pipes, Discover Dredging
  2. Projectile motion, Wikipedia
  3. Estimating discharge from a pumped well by use of the trajectory free-fall or jet-flow method, US Geological Survey
  4. ISO 5167 Measurement of fluid flow by means of pressure differential devices inserted in circular cross-section conduits running full, ISO

See also