Characterising the rheology of non-Newtonian fluids using PFG-NMR and cumulant analysis

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Abstract

Conventional rheological characterisation using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) typically utilises spatially-resolved measurements of velocity. We propose a new approach to rheometry using pulsed field gradient (PFG) NMR which readily extends the application of MR rheometry to single-axis gradient hardware. The quantitative use of flow propagators in this application is challenging because of the introduction of artefacts during Fourier transform, which arise when realistic sampling strategies are limited by experimental and hardware constraints and when particular spatial and temporal resolution are required. The method outlined in this paper involves the cumulant analysis of the acquisition data directly, thereby preventing the introduction of artefacts and reducing data acquisition times. A model-dependent approach is developed to enable the pipe-flow characterisation of fluids demonstrating non-Newtonian power-law rheology, involving the use of an analytical expression describing the flow propagator in terms of the flow behaviour index. The sensitivity of this approach was investigated and found to be robust to the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and number of acquired data points, enabling an increase in temporal resolution defined by the SNR. Validation of the simulated results was provided by an experimental case study on shear-thinning aqueous xanthan gum solutions, whose rheology could be accurately characterised using a power-law model across the experimental shear rate range of 1-100 s<sup>-1</sup>. The flow behaviour indices calculated using this approach were observed to be within 8% of those obtained using spatially-resolved velocity imaging and within 5% of conventional rheometry. Furthermore, it was shown that the number of points sampled could be reduced by a factor of 32, when compared to the acquisition of a volume-averaged flow propagator with 128 gradient increments, without negatively influencing the accuracy of the characterisation, reducing the acquisition time to only 3% of its original value.

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Blythe, T. W., Sederman, A. J., Mitchell, J., Stitt, E. H., York, A. P. E., & Gladden, L. F. (2015). Characterising the rheology of non-Newtonian fluids using PFG-NMR and cumulant analysis. Journal of Magnetic Resonance, 255, 122–131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmr.2015.03.015

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