ABSTRACT: In this paper we present a two-dimensional numerical study of the viscoelastic effects on the sedimentation of particles in the presence of solid walls or another particle. The Navier-Stokes equations coupled with an Oldroyd-B model are solved using a finite-element method with the EVSS formalism, and the particles are moved according to their equations of motion. In a vertical channel filled with a viscoelastic fluid, a particle settling very close to one side wall experiences a repulsion from the wall; a particle farther away from the wall is attracted toward it. Thus a settling particle will approach an eccentric equilibrium position, which depends on the Reynolds and Deborah numbers. Two particles settling one on top of the other attract and form a doublet if their initial separation is not too large. Two particles settling side by side approach each other and the doublet also rotates till the line of centers is aligned with the direction of sedimentation. The particle-particle interactions are in qualitative agreement with experimental observations, while the wall repulsion has not been documented in experiments. The driving force for lateral migrations is shown to correlate with the pressure distribution on the particle's surface. As a rule, viscoelasticity affects the motion of particles by modifying the pressure distribution on their surface. The direct contribution of viscoelastic normal stresses to the force and torque is not important.
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Last updated October 16, 2000