Hardening of particle/oil/water suspensions due to capillary bridges: Experimental yield stress and theoretical interpretation

Krassimir D. Danov, Mihail T. Georgiev, Peter A. Kralchevsky*, Gergana M. Radulova, Theodor D. Gurkov, Simeon D. Stoyanov, Eddie G. Pelan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Suspensions of colloid particles possess the remarkable property to solidify upon the addition of minimal amount of a second liquid that preferentially wets the particles. The hardening is due to the formation of capillary bridges (pendular rings), which connect the particles. Here, we review works on the mechanical properties of such suspensions and related works on the capillary-bridge force, and present new rheological data for the weakly studied concentration range 30–55 vol% particles. The mechanical strength of the solidified capillary suspensions, characterized by the yield stress Y, is measured at the elastic limit for various volume fractions of the particles and the preferentially wetting liquid. A quantitative theoretical model is developed, which relates Y with the maximum of the capillary-bridge force, projected on the shear plane. A semi-empirical expression for the mean number of capillary bridges per particle is proposed. The model agrees very well with the experimental data and gives a quantitative description of the yield stress, which increases with the rise of interfacial tension and with the volume fractions of particles and capillary bridges, but decreases with the rise of particle radius and contact angle. The quantitative description of capillary force is based on the exact theory and numerical calculation of the capillary bridge profile at various bridge volumes and contact angles. An analytical formula for Y is also derived. The comparison of the theoretical and experimental strain at the elastic limit reveals that the fluidization of the capillary suspension takes place only in a deformation zone of thickness up to several hundred particle diameters, which is adjacent to the rheometer's mobile plate. The reported experimental results refer to water-continuous suspension with hydrophobic particles and oily capillary bridges. The comparison of data for bridges from soybean oil and hexadecane surprisingly indicate that the yield strength is greater for the suspension with soybean oil despite its lower interfacial tension against water. The result can be explained with the different contact angles of the two oils in agreement with the theoretical predictions. The results could contribute for a better understanding, quantitative prediction and control of the mechanical properties of three-phase capillary suspensions solid/liquid/liquid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-96
Number of pages17
JournalAdvances in Colloid and Interface Science
Early online date21 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Capillary bridges
  • Capillary suspensions
  • Pendular state
  • Rheology of suspensions
  • Wet granular materials
  • Yield stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Hardening of particle/oil/water suspensions due to capillary bridges: Experimental yield stress and theoretical interpretation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this