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Erosion in seawater sand slurries

J.W.M. Mens and A.W.J. de Gee*

This article describes the influence of the experimental parameters, angle of

attack, slurry speed, sand particle size and sand concentration on the slurry
erosion in sand-water mixtures of two reference materials, steel C22 and
natural rubber. In addition, the results of comparative erosion testing of
25 commercially available construction materials for application in sand
slurry transportation systems are given in the form of a bar chart, in which
the wear resistance of each material is compared with that of the reference
material C22.

Keywords: erosion, sand slurry, wear resistance, particle size, volume concentration

In hydraulic transportation of solid materials (sand, ore, rotate, however, the movement o f the disks and specimen
coal, etc.) the lifetime o f pumps and pipelines is mainly holders causes so much turbulence that the solid material is
determined by erosion and, in acid environments, corrosion stirred up effectively, thus ensuring a virtually homogeneous
- e r o s i o n . Thus economic use o f pumps and pipelines mixture. This was shown by performing tests with four
requires detailed insight into slurry erosion and c o r r o s i o n - specimens, all made o f the same material (steel 42), in a
erosion processes. In addition, both manufacturers and single test run at speeds o f v = 4 ms -1 and v = 30 ms -~ ,
users of slurry erosion transportation systems need a quick respectively. In both cases, the total distance, travelled by
and reliable method for characterizing commercially avail- the specimens, amounted to 9000 m. This corresponded
able materials for application in their systems. Consequent- with a 5 min test at v = 30 ms -1 and a 37.5 min test at
ly, a number o f Dutch dredging and offshore companies v = 4 ms -~ . It was found that at v = 4 ms -~ , the specimens
joined forces with the Dutch government and the Metal in the lower specimen holders suffered some 6% less wear
Research Institute TNO and performed a three year research than the specimens in the upper ones. At v = 30 ms -a ,
program on erosion in sand slurries and c o r r o s i o n - e r o s i o n there was no longer a measurable difference in wear rate
in coal slurries. In this paper, the results o f erosion testing of the upper and lower specimens. From this, it could be
in seawater sand slurries are summarized.

Experimental procedure
Test equipment
Test equipment was o f the 'two-disks' type, as used in
previous research ~ . The essential part o f this equipment is
formed by two disks (C and D in Fig 1), which carry four
specimen holders, driven b y motors A and B, so that they
rotate in opposite directions. Prior to operation, vessel E,
which contains the slurry, is moved upwards by means o f
a pneumatic drive, so that disks, specimen holders and
specimens become deeply immersed in the slurry. Fig 2
shows the details o f the disks, specimen holders (H) and
cylindrical test specimens (S). The diameter o f the test
specimens is 10 mm, which corresponds with an eroding
surface o f 0.79 cm 2.
The disks are made o f stainless steel AISI 316 and, in spite
of their relatively low hardness (240 H v ) , wear of the
disks is relatively small, since they are subject to erosion
under a very small angle o f attack. Also, they can be
replaced easily after a certain number of tests. The speci-
men holders (H) can be turned about axes, parallel to the
axis of rotation of the disks. Thus, angles of attack t~ of
between 10 and 90 ° can be set up. The specimen holders
are made of stainless steel of 800 HV hardness, which gives
them a reasonable resistance against erosion at all angles
of attack. However, they still have to be replaced after
about 10 tests.
As the disks turn in opposite directions, rotation of the
slurry does not occur. Although the mixture does not
*Metaalinstituut TNO, Apeldoorn. The Netherlands Fig 1 Test equipment

TRIBOLOGY international 0301-679X/86/010059-06 $03.00 © 1986 Butterworth & Co (Publishers) Ltd 59

Mens a n d de Gee - erosion in seawater sand slurries

previous research I , the particle size distributions of the

sand samples were very narrow. For example, at an average
particle diameter d = 500/am, 80 % of the particles had
diameters of between 300 and 700/am.

Resu Its
Effect of angle of attack
Fig 3 shows the relation between the rate of erosion A h / t
for the two reference materials expressed in millimetres of
material removed per day as a result o f erosion, and angle
of attack c~. The tests were performed in seawater sand
slurries with average particle diameter d = 700/am and sand
volume concentration Cv = 19%, at a speed v = 4 m s - ' .
It can be seen that for steel C22, as well as for natural
Fig 2 Details o f disks, specimen homers H and test rubber, the curve possesses a well-developed maximum.
specimens S For steel C22, the maximum lies approximately at a = 40 °
0.20 and A h / t = 0.17 mm day -1 and for rubber it lies approxi-
mately at a = 10 ° and A h / t = 0.04 mm d a y - ' . Further-
more, Fig 3 shows that at relatively small angles o f attack
Steel C 22 (a ~< 9 o), the rate o f erosion of natural rubber is higher
than that of steel, while for larger values of a, rubber is
/ i¢" \\ \ more erosion resistant.
/ \ These observations agree with the erosion theory of Bitter 2 ,
/ \ which is based on the assumption that for small values of c~
/ \ (a < 10°), erosion is due to a process of chip formation at
/ a microscale as a result of the machining action of the
/ abrasive particles, while for large values of a (a = 90 °),
0.10 /
<3 impact wear occurs. For values of a between 10 and 90 °,
both mechanisms contribute to the erosion process. In order
to work out the theory quantitatively, Bitter defined a
/ specific erosion rate e, which is the volume of material
removed per kg of abrasive which comes inte contact
0.05 f with the eroding surface. The value of e, expressed in
10 -3 mm 3 kg -1 , is found from:

Natural rubber Ah/t

e= (I)
.-e 86400pCv(sin(~)v
O~ I J i I t I in which 86 400 is the number of seconds in one day
0 10 20 30 40 60 80 (24 h) and p is the density o f the sand particles.

Fig 3 Erosh)n rate A h/t as function o f angle o f attack a f o r Bitter's theory leads to the result that the relation between
steel C22 and natural rubber: seawater sand slurry with e and a can be described by the curves shown in Fig 4. For
d = 700 p m ; Cv = 19%; v = 4 ms -1 ; A h / t in m m per day; a very elastic material (no impact wear), the curve shown
a in degrees in Fig 4(a) applies; for an extremely brittle material (glass,
only impact wear), the curve shown in Fig 4(b) applies.
concluded that the effect of specimen location on wear Common engineering materials like aluminium and steel
rate is very small or nil in the range v = 4 - 3 0 ms -1 . It was show an intermediate behaviour, illustrated in Fig 4(c).
also found that, at both speeds, wear by erosion increased
linearly with the distance travelled, indicating that during In the present case, the e against a curves look as shown
a test run in which the total travelling distance is 9000 m, in Fig 5. It can be seen that, in agreement with expecta-
the eroding effect of the sand particles does not change tions, the curve for natural rubber resembles that for an
notably. ideal elastic material, shown in Fig 4(a), while the e/a
curve for steel C22 resembles the curve shown in Fig 4(c).
In the course of the research programme, 27 materials were Table 1 Values of the erosion/speed exponent n (cf Fig 6)
tested under a variety of experimental conditions. The
influence of the test parameters will be illustrated with the Material ~ o n
help of two reference materials, ie steel C22 and natural Steel C22 20 3.1
rubber. The behaviour of the remaining 25 materials is 40 3.1
described schematically in the form o f a bar chart, relating 80 2.8
the erosion of each individual material to that o f reference
material C22. Natural rubber 20 3.2
40 3.2
All the results discussed in this article refer to tests per- 80 2.7
formed with quartz sand as the abrasive medium. As in

60 A p r i l 8 6 V o l 19 N o 2
Mens and de Gee - erosion in seawater sand slurries

a b c
Fig 4 Specific erosion rate e as function o f angle o f attack a, according to Bitter 2." (a) very elastic material," (b) very brittle
material," (c ) common engineering material

E f f e c t o f speed v Effect o f volume c o n c e n t r a t i o n Cv

Fig 6 shows that, for both reference materials, the relation The effect of the volume concentration Cv of the abrasive
A h / t against v forms a straight line on a l o g - l o g plot. Thus, material in the slurry has been described previously3 .
in the speed range from 4 to 30 ms -1 , the rate o f erosion Erosion measurements, performed at Cv values of 1,3, 6,
increases exponentionally with increasing v, ie: 10, 14, 22, and 33 volume %, respectively, show that the
erosion rate A h / t varies with Cv according to the law of
Ah n diminishing returns, ie:
= cv (2)
Ah 1 - e -~Cv
This result agrees with the observations o f other authors 3-s. = (3)
In Table 1, the values o f the erosion/speed exponent n,
corresponding with the data from Fig 6, are listed. It can
be seen that very dissimilar materials such as steel C22 and
natural rubber have approximately the same n value. This
varies from about 2.75 for a = 80 ° to 3.15 for a = 20 or 40 °.
The relatively high value of n implies that when testing at a
2.0 I
constant value of angle of attack a, at increasing velocity v,
/ /
l/ \ \
the erosion rate A h / t soon becomes unrealistically high.
For instance, at c~ = 40 ° and v = 15 ms -1 , the erosion rate
of steel C22 is equal to 15 mm day -1 (at u = 15 m s -1 ,the \
experiment duration is 1 hr, leading to a wear depth of t
0.7 mm). This effect is typical for laboratory testing at \
constant a; in practice an initially high erosion rate will 1.5 .ill
cause local changes in the shape of the eroding surface, tl \
Steel C 22
usually leading to a drastic reduction in a. Thus, in prac- \
tice, A h / t usually decreases appreciably with time (see \
Fig 3). \
1.0 ' / \
E f f e c t o f average p a r t i c l e d i a m e t e r d \ \
\ \
The effect of the average particle diameter d on the erosion \
of the reference materials was investigated b y performing
experiments in seawater sand slurries with d values of
290,700 and 1900/am, respectively. A characteristic result 0.5 \
is shown in Fig 7, for p = 4 m s-1 and a = 40°._Fig 7 shows
the values of the ratio Ah3/Ah29o (in which d represents N
average particle diameters of either 700 or 1900/am, %.. Natural rubber
respectively) as a function o f d. It can be seen that for both
reference materials, the relationship between the ratio 0 I l [ I 1 .l
A h 3/Ah290 and d is roughly linear. However, the effect of 0 10 20 30 40 60 80
increasing the particle diameter is much more pronounced O~
in the case of steel C22 than in the case o f natural rubber. Fig 5 Specific erosion rate e as function o f angle o f attack a
The same is found for other values of a (in the range for steel C22 and natural rubber." conditions as in Fig 3;
1 0 - 9 0 °) and v (in the range 4 - 3 0 m s - l ) . e in 10 -3 m m 3 kg-1 ; a in degrees

T R I B O L O G Y international 61
Mens and de Gee -- erosion in seawater sand slurries

Steel C 22
A technically important parameter is the amount of erosive
/ / wear per unit of mass of abrasive (Ah]M), transported
100 ,o P through a pump or pipeline• The value of A h [ M can be
10 / calculated by dividing A h / t by the mass of abrasive trans-
/ /
! // l ported per unit o f time (M]t). This is found from:
/ Z
/ /
/ M
0.1 / !
- = AvpCv (4)
0 I i
10 100 10 100 10 100 in which A is the hydraulic cross-section of pump or pipe-
V line, p is the sand density, and in which it is assumed
that the slurry is homogeneous. Using v = 2 ms -1 ,
Natural rubber O = 2600 kg m-a and A = 0.0227 m 2 (diameter 0.17 m)
yields a value of 107 Cv kg per 24 h f o r M / t . Thus, one
100 obtains, for Ah/M:
/ /
10 / ), Ah Ah/t
/ / /
,o M 10 7 Cv (5)
/ /
/ / o/
/ / /
0,1 / I // Combining Eqs (3) and (5) and inserting ~0 = 240 hr ram- 1
m P , ¢' , and/3 = 0.07 finally yields:
10 100 lO 100 10 100 Ah 1 - e -0"07Cv
v - - - x 10 -s (6)
= 20 ° ff = 40° c~ = 80 ° M Cv
Fig 6 Erosion rate A h / t against speed v f o r steel C22 and This equation is represented graphically by curve b in Fig 8.
natural rubber, with angles o f attack o f 20, 40 and 80°: It can be seen that A h [ M decreases with increasing value
seawater sand slurry with d = 700 lam and Cv = 19%, of C v. This is an important fact to be considered when
A h / t in m m per day; v in ms -~ optimizing slurry transportation systems in practice.

Mutual comparison of 25 construction materials

M u t u a l comparison o f c o n s t r u c t i o n materials can be made
elegantly b y means o f a bar chart, in w h i c h the ratio o f
the erosion o f each o f the materials to be characterized
/ and the erosive wear of a reference material are plotted.
40 To avoid ratios smaller than one,f+ and f_ are defined as
/ follows:
g 30 / Ahc22
/ Steel C 22 f+ - Ahc22 > A h x
/ Ah x
/ (7)
<1 20 / Ah x
/ f_ - Ahx > Ahc22
/ Ahc22

10 / in which x identifies the material to be characterized. The

resulting f+ and f _ values for 16 steels and cast irons and

// Natural rubber -o
0 ~ n I
/am (24 h) -1 10 - 8 mm kg -1
0 290 700 1900
E (urn)
Fig 7 Ratio Ah~/Ah29 o as function o f average particle % 1.5
diameter d f o r steel C22 and natural rubber: seawater sand 100
slurry with Cv = 19%; v = 4 ms -1 ; a = 40 °

,>:. 1.0

in which @ is a measure for the intrinsic erosion resistance J .... b
50 /
of the material, subjected to erosion, while exponent/3 S
depends on the nature of the abrasive material. f

In a seawater sand slurry with d = 700/am at c~ = 30 ° and 0 I I I

v = 4 ms- l , the ~ values for steel C22 and natural rubber 0 10 20 30 40
are 110 h mm -1 a n d 980 h mm -1 , respectively;/3 is found
to be equal to 0.07 (Cv expressed as a percentage). For a c~
material with ~ = 240 h ram-1 and/3 = 0.07, Fig 8 shows Fig 8 Erosion rate A h / t (curve a) and erosion per unit o f
how the erosion rate A h / t , this time expressed in/2m per mass o f abrasive Ah/M (curve b) as function o f volume
24 hr, varies as a function of Cv (curve a). In agreement with concentration Cv f o r material with intrinsic erosion resis-
Eq (3), the influence of C v diminishes with increasing C v. tance ~ = 240 h m m -1 (exponent/3 = 0.07)

62 A p r i l 8 6 V o l 19 No 2
Mens a n d de Gee - erosion in seawater sand slurries

10- e = 10° I 12 ee

5 I ---- 11
5 9
10 t c~-- 20~ II 7 ea

,I,.,., . . . . . , _.
I~ 6

f_ 5 4
i 15 3
l 1 ~'= 30° I 2

,+ I , I_. l .._ _.. _1 _.

q t I I I I i i
f 5 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900

:l I
10 c~= 80 ° Fig lO Average f values, taken from Fig 9, as function o f
~+ __ _ _a I _I .I_ ._= .I__= Viekers hardness Hv. Unmarked datapoints: low alloy
carbon steels; datapoints a - e : chromium carbide containing
f-- Steels and cast irons Elastomers alloys

Fig 9 Bar chart showing f values (relative erosion resistance) general indications have been obtained. In the case of steels
for 25 commercially available construction materials." sea- and cast irons, it was found that hardness, chemical compo-
water sand slurry with Cv = 19~, v = 4 ms -1 sition and structure all play important roles. This is illus-
trated by Fig 10, in which the f v a l u e s from Fig 9, averaged
over the four different a values, are plotted as a function of
nine elastomers (natural and artificial rubbers), charac- Vickers hardness. It can be seen that 11 from the 16 data
terized in the course o f a proprietary research programme points lie more or less on a straight line, indicative of a
performed for Dutch industry, are shown in Fig 9. This regular increase in erosion resistance (JO with increasing
diagram applies to a values o f 10, 20, 30 and 80 °, Vickers hardness. These 11 alloys are low alloy carbon
respectively, v = 4 ms -1 , C v = 19% and d = 700/~m (sand steels..However, alloys a - d contain 2 - 3 % carbon and
water slurry). All materials tested were commercially avail- 1 4 - 1 8 (alloys a - d ) or 25% (alloy e) chromium. Conse-
able in the Netherlands; they were marketed for use in quently, these alloys contain relatively large amounts of
dredging, offshore and slurry transport installations. chromium carbides, which seem to have a beneficial effect
Fig 9 shows that resistance to erosion varies considerably on the erosion resistance.
from material to material, some materials being much more
wear resistant than the reference material steel C22. F o r Conclusions
steels and cast irons c~ has little or no influence on the It is concluded that erosion tests o f the 'two-disks' type
/values. The reason for this is that for these materials, the provide useful information on the effect o f various para-
A h / t against c~ curves (see Fig 3) are very similar, ie the meters on the erosion process. The method enables the
location of the maximum is roughly the same in all cases. ranking o f construction materials, meant for application in
This result is o f great practical significance because it slurry transportation systems. Bar charts like the one shown
implies that the ranking o f these materials, as far as their in Fig 9 are a useful tool in the characterization and qualifi-
erosion resistance is concerned, does not depend on the cation o f materials, which are recent additions to the
angle o f attack a and, hence, on the shape of the eroding market.
For the elastomers one finds a pronounced effect due to t~,
whereby, without exception, f increases with increasing c~. This paper describes the main results o f a multi-sponsored
The reason for this is that the A h / t against ~t curve for steel research programme. The authors are indebted to S.E.M.
C22 differs considerably from the corresponding curves for de Bree, J.G. Erlings, H.P.B. Hokke, C.J. Ravestein, W.F.
the elastomeric materials (Fig 3). The practical implication Rosenbrand, E.S. Sluis and F.A. van Willigen, members o f
of this is that, in sand slurries, application of rubber the project steering committee and to A. Begelinger, project
particularly pays off at relatively high c~values. It should leader during the first year o f the programme, who contri-
be noted that, in coal slurries, to be discussed in a subse- buted valuable suggestions and critical comments during
quent article 6 , the use of rubber as well as thermoplastic the performance of the research programme.
polymers like polybutene can be very attractive, even at
small t~ values, because corrosive attack in coal slurries can References
play an important role. 1. de Bree S.E.M., Begelinger A. and de Gee A.W.J. A study of the
wear behaviour of materials for dredge parts in water-sand
mixtures, Proc, 3rd Int, Syrup. Dredging Technol., Bordeaux.
Obviously the differences in erosion resistance mentioned France, BHRA Fluid Engineering Centre, Cranfield, Bedford,
are related to differences in basic material properties. UK, 1980, 299-314
Although a closer study o f the relevant relations fell out- 2. Bitter .LG. A study of erosion phenomena, Wear, 6, 1963.
side the scope o f the present research programme, some 169-190

TRIBOLOGY international 63
Mens a n d de Gee - erosion in seawater sand slurries

3. de Bzee S.E.M., Rosenbrand W.F. and de Gee A.W.J. On the classification of materials using a centrifugal erosion tester,
erosion resistance in water-sand mixtures of steels for appLica- Tribology Int. 14 (6), 1981, 333-343
tion in slurry pipelines, Proc. 8th lnt. Conf. Hydraul. Transp.
Solids Pipes, Johannesburg, South Africa, August 1982, 5° Elkholy A. Prediction of abrasion wear for slurry pump
BHRA Fluid Engineering Centre, Cranfield, Bedford, UK, materials, Wear, 84, 1983, 39-49
6. Erlings J.G., de Gee A.W.J. and Mens J.W.M. Corrosion and
4. S6derberg S., Hogmark S., Engman U. and Swahn H. Erosion erosion in coal slurries {to be published)

64 April 86 Vo119 No 2