Correlating inter-particle forces and particle shape to shear-induced aggregation/fragmentation and rheology for dilute anisotropic particle suspensions: a complementary study via capillary rheometry and in situ small and ultra-small angle X-ray scatterin
Predicting the stability of suspensions composed of anisotropic particles is difficult due to the complexity and interplay of hydrodynamic and colloidal forces. For example, it is not well understood how non-spherical particle shapes affect suspension-rheological responses. This study presents evidence showing how the stacking of boehmite platelets dispersed in aqueous solution leads to moderate shear thinning, even at low boehmite mass fractions. Wide angle X-ray, small angle X-ray, and ultra-small angle X-ray scattering were used to simultaneously monitor changes to the size and fractal dimensions of boehmite aggregates from 6 – 10,000 Å as the sample was recirculated through an in situ capillary rheometer. The latter also provided simultaneous measurements of the viscosity of the suspensions. Computational fluid dynamics modeling of the apparatus was used to provide a more rigorous analysis of the fluid flow. In addition to shear-induced aggregation/fragmentation correlated to a complicated balance between hydrodynamic and colloidal forces, the results indicate that orientationally-dependent interactions, arising from non-spherical boehmite aggregate sub-units, may explain the relatively large experimental viscosity when the hydrodynamic force is small compared to colloidal forces. The results from this study can provide a foundation for future work investigating particle shape effects on colloidal and hydrodynamics forces.