High pressure viscosity measurement with falling body type viscometers

Schaschke, Carl (2010) High pressure viscosity measurement with falling body type viscometers. International Review of Chemical Engineering - Rapid Communications, 2 (5). pp. 564-576. ISSN 2035-1755

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With the increasing number of applications of high pressure chemical and process technologies across a range of engineering fields, there is a corresponding growing interest in the need to measure accurately and reliably important rheological parameters. Of these, the measurement of good and reliable viscosity data is critical in engineering design. The ability to measure viscosity at high pressure, however, presents a number of engineering challenges and a number of innovative viscometers have consequently been devised and operated. This review considers those devices which are based on the falling body principle and considers falling ball, cylinder and needle in open and closed systems. Viscosity is determined from the rate of fall and the usual challenge is to detect its position during descent. While reliable data can be obtained from these viscometers, there is a discrepancy between theoretical values and actual values. This is the result of end effects in the form of vortices, wake oscillations and hedding. Calibration is therefore necessary in all cases. Improvements to analytical models have been attempted and computation fluid dynamics is also used to examine in more detail the flow fields around bodies to understand and appreciate better the performance of these viscometers.