Hydrodynamic fragmentation of nanoparticle aggregates at orthokinetic coagulation

Stanislav Dukhin, Chao Zhu, Rajesh N. Dave, Qun Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Hydrodynamic forces on a doublet of large particles or aggregates during sedimentation cause the non-inertial fragmentation of the doublet, if the doublet Reynolds number and Stokes number are small. In lio-dispersed systems, this non-inertial fragmentation is known to promote the wet classification of large particles whereas the small particles are aggregated (in the secondary minimum) and hence cannot be separated despite the electrostatic repulsion. In aero-dispersed systems with negligible electrostatic repulsion, it is possible to have a narrower separation between two interacting particles so that the attractive surface forces such as van der Waals force could increase in orders of magnitude. As a result, the doublet fragmentation by the aerodynamic detaching force becomes very difficult or even impossible in sedimentation at a small Re. However, this study shows that, when extending above analysis for the interacting fractal aggregates of nanoparticles in a suspension, it is still possible to have aggregate (doublet of two nano-aggregates) fragmentation by the aerodynamic detaching force because the surface forces for nanoparticle contact between two aggregates may be in orders of magnitude smaller than that for micron-sized particles. Even with multiple contacts between two interacting nanoparticle aggregates, this prediction of aggregate fragmentation may still be valid because the contacts may break step by step due to the aggregate rolling along each other caused by a short-range aerodynamic interaction during their differential settling. The aerodynamics of aero-dispersed nanoparticle aggregates is analogous to the hydrodynamics of lio-dispersed solid particles. Therefore the hydrodynamic fragmentation model may be used to partially interpret the stability of nanoparticle fluidization process. Our model indicates that, without continued doublet fragmentation of nano-aggregates, the fluidized nanoparticle suspension would be de-fluidized within minutes via the cascading aggregation. However, the experimental evidence of a sustained operation of fluidization of nanoparticle aggregates over a very long time period without changing the size of nanoparticle aggregates indicates that there is a dynamic balance between the aggregation and fragmentation of nano-aggregates in nanoparticle fluidization. The prediction of critical size of nanoparticle aggregates caused by fragmentation in stabilized fluidization agrees with our in situ measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-131
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Colloid and Interface Science
StatePublished - Jun 30 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


  • Aggregate sedimentation
  • Fractal aggregate
  • Nanoparticle aggregate
  • Nanoparticle fluidization
  • Non-inertial aggregate fragmentation


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