Tuning Particle Settling in Fluids with Magnetic Fields

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Experiments in Fluids

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A magnetic field is generated to modify the effective gravity acting on settling particles in a laboratory experiment. When applied to a magnetized spherical particle settling in water-glycerol mixtures, the magnetic field produces a vertical force that counteracts the gravitational field, hence allowing for the magnetic tuning of the settling properties of the particle. While doing so, the spin of the particle around the direction perpendicular to the applied magnetic field is blocked, thus allowing spin solely around the direction of the magnetic field. This method of magnetic modification of the effective gravity is tested on the settling of spherical magnets in quiescent fluids over Galileo numbers in the range [100, 300] and a fixed particle density of 8200 kg/m . The results obtained by varying the Galileo number via the magnetic modification of effective gravity are compared to those obtained with non-magnetic spheres when the Galileo number is modified by varying the fluid’s viscosity. We show that the same taxonomy of settling regimes with nearly identical geometrical properties (in terms of planarity and obliqueness) of the trajectories is recovered. In addition to proving that it is possible to magnetically tame the settling of particles in fluids preserving the features of the non-magnetic case, this also reveals that blocking the spin of the particles does not produce any significant effect on its settling properties in a quiescent fluid. This novel experimental methodology opens new possibilities to experimentally explore many other subtle aspects of the coupling between settling particles and fluids (for instance, to disentangle the effects of rotation, inertia, and/or anisotropy of the particles) in more complex situations including the case of turbulent flows.


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