Ultrasound imaging velocimetry in particle-laden flows

counteracting attenuation with correlation averaging

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Abstract: Ultrasound imaging velocimetry (UIV) refers to the technique wherein ultrasound images are analysed with 2D cross-correlation techniques developed originally in the framework of particle image velocimetry. Applying UIV to opaque, particle-laden multiphase flows have long been considered to be an attractive prospect. In this study, we demonstrate how fundamental differences in acoustical imaging, as compared to optical imaging, manifest themselves in the 2D cross-correlation analysis. A chief point of departure from conventional particle image velocimetry is the strong variation in the intensity profile of the acoustic wavefield, primarily caused by the attenuation of ultrasonic waves in particle-laden flows. Attenuation necessitates using a larger ensemble of correlation planes to obtain satisfactory time-averaged velocity profiles. For a given combination of imaging and flow conditions, attenuation sets upper limits on volume fraction, penetration depth, as well as temporal resolutions that may be accessed confidently. This behaviour is demonstrated in two experimental datasets and is also supported by a modified cross-correlation theory. The modification is brought about by incorporating a lumped model of ultrasonic backscattering in suspensions into existing spatial cross-correlation analysis. The two experimental datasets correspond to two distinct particle-laden pipe flows: (1) a neutrally buoyant non-Brownian suspension in a laboratory-scale flow facility, wherein particle sizes are comparable to the ultrasonic wavelength and (2) a non-Newtonian slurry in an industrial-scale flow facility, wherein particle sizes are much smaller than the ultrasonic wavelength. We illustrate how and to what extent correlation averaging can counteract the adversity caused by attenuation. The work herein offers a template for one to evaluate the performance of UIV in particle-laden flows. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].