Development of a simulation system for a continuous flow, quiescent, aqueous environment

Wendell P. Ela, James O. Leckie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Aggregation and sedimentation of particles in lakes, estuaries, settling basins and the deep ocean play a central role in biological cycles, fate and movement of contaminants, and trace element transport. Relative quiescence with continuous influx characterizes these and other aqueous environments. However, our understanding of the processes of aggregation and sedimentation in these vital systems is poor. Inadequate experimental systems and measuring instrumentation are primary causes of this shortcoming. This paper details a laboratory experimental system which creates a continuous flow, quiescent microcosm in which particle aggregation and settling can be studied. The system's functioning and quiescence has been rigorously verified and the conditions for successful operation defined. A model is detailed which describes fluid and solute movement in the experimental system. The results of the system verification studies indicate significant fluid mixing may occur in experimental systems which are assumed to be quiescent, yet where no careful temperature management has been employed. This unexpected and uncontrolled fluid motion may lead to significant errors in experiments whenever particles smaller than about 20 microns with environmentally relevant densities are studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1734-1750
Number of pages17
JournalWater research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2000


  • Flow model
  • Gravity-driven aggregation
  • Instrumentation
  • LIF
  • PTV
  • Quiescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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