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Viscosity and flow behavior of smectite suspensions are of paramount importance for the use of this clay mineral in drilling fluids, paper coaters, detergents, paint, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other industrial products. Rheology of colloidal suspensions has been a subject of numerous studies during the last two decades. Comprehensive reviews of these studies are presented by Sherman (1970), Mewis (1980), Goodwin (1982), Ottewill (1982), Krieger (1985), Tadros (1987), and Barnes et al. (1989). Rheological properties of water-based drilling fluids containing smectites (bentonites) as the main viscosifier are described by Gray et al. (1980) and Chilingarian and Vorabutr (1981).

Aqueous smectite suspensions contain colloidal smectite particles as the solid phase and water as the continuous phase. The viscosity and flow behavior of smectite suspensions are sensitive to many factors. A review of these factors is presented in th is chapter inclUding the effects of particle characteristics and interparticle forces on suspension rheology.

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