Fines mobility and distribution in streaming fibre networks: experimental evidence and numerical modeling

Jakob D. Redlinger-Pohn*, Melanie Mayr, Gregor Schaub, David Gruber, Stefan Radl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The motion of flocculated fibres in a streaming suspension is governed by the balance of the network strength and hydrodynamic forces. With increasing flow rate through a channel, (1) the network initially occupying all space, (2) is then compressed to the centre, and (3) ultimately dispersed. This classical view neglects fibres-fines: we find that the distribution of these small particles differs in streaming suspensions. While it is known that fibre-fines can escape the fibre network, we find that the distribution of fibre-fines is non-homogenous in the network during compression: fibre-fines can be caged and retarded in the streaming fibre network. Hence, the amount of fibre-fines is reduced outside of a fibre network and enriched at the network’s interface. Aiming on selectively removing fibre-fines from a streaming network by suction, we identify a reduction of the fines removal rate. That documents a hindered mobility of fibre-fines when moving through the network of fibres. Additionally, we found evidence, that the mobility of fibre-fines is dependent on the fibre-fines quality, and is higher for fibrillar fines. Consequently, we suggest that the quality of fibre-fines removed from the suspension can be controlled with the flow regime in the channel. Finally, we present a phenomenological model to compute the length dependent fibre distribution in an arbitary geometry. For a fibre suspension channel flow we are able to predict a length-dependent fibre segregation near the channel’s centre. The erosion of a plug of long fibres was however underestimated by our model. Interestingly, our model with parameters fitted to streaming fibre suspension qualitatively agreed with the motion of micro-fibrillated cellulose. This gives hope that devices for handling flocculated fibre suspensions can be designed in the future with greater confidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9663-9682
Number of pages20
Issue number16
Early online date23 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2020


  • Fibre segregation
  • Fibre suspension modelling
  • Fractionation
  • Hydrodynamic fractionation
  • Length-based fibre separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics


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