Abstract: We show how existing models for the sedimentation of monodisperse flocculated suspensions and of polydisperse suspensions of rigid spheres differing in size can be combined to yield a new theory of sedimentation processes of polydisperse suspensions forming compressible sediments (`sedimentation with compression' or `sedimentation-consolidation process'). For $N$ solid particle species, this theory reduces in one space dimension to an $N\times N$ coupled system of quasilinear degenerate convection-diffusion equations. Analyses of the characteristic polynomials of the Jacobian of the convective flux vector and of the diffusion matrix show that this system is of strongly degenerate parabolic-hyperbolic type for arbitrary $N$ and particle size distributions. Bounds for the eigenvalues of both matrices are derived. The mathematical model for $N=3$ is illustrated by a numerical simulation obtained by the Kurganov-Tadmor central difference scheme for convection-diffusion problems. The numerical scheme exploits the derived bounds on the eigenvalues to keep the numerical diffusion at a minimum.
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