Consolidation of collodal suspensions


A key step in the processing of ceramics is the consolidation of powders into engineered shapes. Colloidal processing uses solvents (usually water) and dispersants to break up powder agglomerates in suspension and thereby reduce the pore size in a consolidatd compact. However, agglomeration and particle rearrangement leading to pore enlargement can still occur during drying. Therefore, it is beneficial to consolidate the compact asdensely as possible during the suspension stage. The consolidation techniques of pressure filtration and centrifugation were studied and the results are reported in this paper. In particular, the steady-state pressure-density relationship was studied, and information was obtained regarding the consolidation process, the microstructure, and the average density profile of consolidated cakes. We found that the compaction processes in these two consolidation methods are quite different. In general, a consolidated cake is a particulate network made up of many structural units which are fractal objects formed during aggregation in the suspension. In pressure filtration, compaction is a process of breaking up the fractal structural units in the particulate network by applied pressure; the resulting partie rearrangement is produced by overcoming energetic barriers which are related to tee packing density of the compact. Recently, we performed Monte Carlo simulations on a cluster-cluster aggregation model with restructuring,1 and found the exponential relationship between pressure and density is indeed the result of the breaking up of the fractal structural units.2 On the other hand, in centrifugation, compaction involves the rearrangement of the fractal structural units without breaking them so that the self-similar nature of the aggregates is preserved. Furthermore, we calculated density profiles fom the bottom to the top of the cakes by solving the local static force balance equation n the continuum particulate network. In pressure filtration of alumina and boehmite, the cakes are predicted have uniform density. The results of γ-ray densitometry3 on a pressure-filtrated alumina cake confirmed this prediction. In contrast, in centrifugation, the density profiles are predicted to show significant variation for cakes on the order of one centimeter high. Moreover, the pressure-filtered boehmite cakes showed no cracking during drying. This indicated that pressure filtration is a good consolidation technique for nanometer-sized particles such as boehmite. The improved drying property is probably a result of a minimal shrinkage due to the formation of higher packing densities during filtration.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    W. Y. Shih, I. A. Aksay, and R. Kikuchi, Phys. Rev. A, 36, 5015 (1987).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    W. Y. Shih, W.-H. Shih, and I. A. Aksay, in Physical Phenomena in Granular Materials, MRS Symp. Proc., Vol. 195, edited by T. H. Geballe, P. Sheng, and G. D. Cody (Materials Research Society, Pittsburgh, PA, 1990), submitted.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    C. H. Schilling, G. L. Graff, W. D. Samuels, and I. A. Aksay, in Atomic and Molecular Processing of Electronic and Ceramic Materials: Preparation, Characterization, and Properties, MRS Conf. Proc, edited by I. A. Aksay, G. L. McVay, T. G. Stoebe, and J. F. Wager (Materials Research Society, Pittsburgh, PA, 1988), p. 239.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    F. M. Tiller, C. S. Yeh, C. D. Tsai, and W. Chen, Filtration & Separation, 24, 121 (1987).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    W.-H. Shih, J. Liu, W. Y. Shih, S. I. Kim, M. Sarikaya, and I. A. Aksay, in Processing Science of Advanced Ceramics, MRS Symp. Proc, Vol. 155, edited by I. A. Aksay, G. L McVay, and D. R. Ulrich (Materials Research Society, Pittsburgh, PA, 1989), p. 83.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    F. Lange and K. T. Miller, Am. Ceram. Soc. Bull., 66, 1498 (1987).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    D. S. Horn and G. L. Messing, J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 72 (9) 1719 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    R. Buscall, Colloids and Surfaces, 5, 269 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    T. J. Fennelly and J. S. Reed, J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 55 (8) 381 (1972).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    W.-H. Shih, W. Y. Shih, S. I. Kim, J. Liu, and I. A. Aksay, Phys. Rev. A, submitted.

  11. 11.

    R. Buscall, I. J. McGowan, P. D. A. Mills, R. F. Stewart, D. Sutton, L. R. White, and G. E. Yates, J. Non-Newtonian Fluid Mech., 24, 183 (1987).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Wei-Heng Shih.

Additional information

Pacific Northwest Laboratory is operated for the U. S. Department of Energy by Battelle Memorial Institute under Contract DE-AC06-76RLO 1830.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shih, WH., Il Kim, S., Shih, W.Y. et al. Consolidation of collodal suspensions. MRS Online Proceedings Library 180, 167 (1990).

Download citation