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Title: Taking magnetic resonance into industrial applications
Author: Blythe, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 4174
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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Magnetic resonance (MR) is a highly versatile technique with great potential for use in industrial applications; from the in situ study of unit operations to the optimisation of product properties. This thesis, concerned with the latter, is divided into two parts. Firstly, dynamic MR is applied to characterise the flow behaviour, or rheology, of process fluids. Such characterisation is typically performed using conventional rheometry methods operating offline, with an online, or inline, method sought for process control and optimisation. Until recently, MR was an unlikely choice for this application due to the requirement of high-field MR hardware. However, recent developments in low-field MR hardware mean that the potential of MR in such applications can now be realised. Since the implementation of MR flow imaging is challenging on low-field MR hardware, two new approaches to MR rheometry are described using pulsed field gradient (PFG) MR. A cumulant analysis of the PFG MR signal is first used to characterise the rheology of model power-law fluids, namely xanthan gum-in-water solutions, accurate to within 5% of conventional rheometry, the data being acquired in only 6% of the time required when using MR flow imaging. The second approach utilises a Bayesian analysis of the PFG MR signal to characterise the rheology of model Herschel--Bulkley fluids, namely Carbopol 940-in-water solutions; data are acquired in only 12% of the time required for analysis using MR flow imaging. The suitability of the Bayesian MR approach to study process fluids is demonstrated through experimental study on an alumina-in-acetic acid slurry used by Johnson Matthey. Secondly, MR imaging is used to provide insights into the origins and mechanisms of colloidal gel collapse. Many industrial products are colloidal gels, a space-spanning network of attractive particles with a yield stress. Colloidal gels are, however, known to undergo gravitational collapse after a latency period, thus limiting the shelf-life of products. This remains poorly understood, with a more detailed understanding of both fundamental interest and practical importance. To this end, MR imaging is applied offline to investigate the phase behaviour of colloidal gels. In particular, a comparison of the simulated and experimental phase diagrams suggests gravitational gel collapse to be gravity-driven. Furthermore, measurement of the colloid volume fraction using MR imaging indicates the formation of clusters of colloids at the top of the samples. Whether such clusters initiate gravitational gel collapse is yield stress-dependent; the gravitational stress exerted by a cluster must be sufficient to yield the colloidal gel.
Supervisor: Gladden, Lynn Sponsor: Johnson Matthey
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: magnetic resonance ; pulsed field gradient ; imaging ; industrial applications ; rheology ; non-Newtonian fluids ; colloidal gels ; gravitational collapse