Improvements to the Modeling of Average Floc Size in Turbulent Suspensions of Mud
Kuprenas, Rachel Leah
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The accuracy of sediment transport models depends on identifying an appropriate sediment settling velocity. Determining this value for mud suspensions can be difficult because cohesive mud particles can aggregate, forming flocs whose sizes are a function of hydrodynamic and physiochemical conditions of the suspension. Here we present a new model refining the predicted floc size based on hydrodynamic conditions and inherited floc sizes, as well as on the salinity of the fluid environment. The improvements come from modifications made to the Winterwerp (1998) (W98) model. These improvements include: limiting floc size to the Kolmogorov microscale and including an initial salinity dependence. Limiting floc size in this way brings the model predictions more in line with flocculation theory and experimental observations. The salinity dependence was introduced based on a preliminary set of experiments that were conducted to examine floc growth rate and equilibrium size under different salinity conditions. In these experiments, increasing salinity from 2.5 to 10 PSU did not affect equilibrium floc size. However, the increases in salinity did result in longer times to equilibrium and an apparent increase in floc density or fractal dimension. The modified W98 model allows calibrated aggregation and breakup coefficients obtained under one set of concentration values (for both sediment and salinity) to be used to predict floc size under other concentration conditions. Comparing the modified W98 model with laboratory data shows more accurate predictive values, indicating that the modified W98 equation is a promising tool for incorporation into larger sediment transport models.
- Masters Theses