Continuum dynamics of suspensions at low Reynolds number

Charles W. Wolgemuth, Jorge I. Palos-Chavez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dynamics of suspensions of particles has been an active area of research since Einstein first calculated the leading-order correction to the viscosity of a suspension of spherical particles (Einstein, Proc. R. Soc., vol. A102, 1906, pp. 161-179). Since then, researchers have strived to develop an accurate description of the behaviours of suspensions that goes beyond just leading order in the particle volume fraction. Here, we consider the low-Reynolds-number behaviour of a suspension of spherical particles. Working from the Green's functions for the flow due to a single particle, we derive a continuum-level description of the dynamics of suspensions. Our analysis corrects an error in the derivation of these equations in the work of Jackson (Chem. Engng Sci., vol. 52, 1997, pp. 2457-2469) and leads to stable equations of motion for the particles and fluid. In addition, our resulting equations naturally give the sedimentation speed for suspended particles and correct a separate error in the calculation by Batchelor (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 52, 1972, pp. 245-268). Using the pair-correlation function for hard spheres, we are able to compute the sedimentation speed out to seventh order in the volume fraction, which agrees with experimental data up to 30 %-35 %, and also get higher-order corrections to the suspension viscosity, which agree with experiments up to 15 %. Then, using the pair distribution for spheres in shear flow, we find alterations to both the first and second normal stresses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA16
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jun 29 2023


  • general fluid mechanics
  • suspensions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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