A numerical study on the settling behaviour of particles in shear‑thinning thixotropic fluids has been conducted. The numerical scheme was based on the volume of fluid model, with the solid particle being likened to a fluid with very high viscosity. The validity of this model was confirmed through comparisons of the flow field surrounding a sphere settling in a Newtonian fluid with the analytical results of Stokes. The rheology model for the fluid was time‑dependent, utilising a scalar parameter that represents the integrity of a “structural network,” which determines its shear thinning and thixotropic characteristics. The results of this study show that the flow field surrounding the settling sphere is highly localised, with distinct regions of disturbed/undisturbed fluids. The extension of these regions depends on the relaxation time of the fluid, as well as its shear thinning characteristics, and reflects the drag force experienced by the sphere. As the sphere settles, a region of sheared fluid that has significantly lower values of viscosity is formed above the sphere. This region slowly recovers in structure in time. As a result, a sphere that falls in a partially recovered domain (e.g., due to the shearing motion of an earlier sphere) tends to attain a greater velocity than the terminal velocity value. This was found to be true even in cases where the “resting time” of the fluid was nearly twice the relaxation time of the fluid. The results of this study could provide a framework for future analysis on the time‑dependent settling behaviour of particles in thixotropic shear‑thinning fluids.

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