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Interfacial Dynamics of Two Layer Couette Flow: Gravity Enhanced Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability

[+] Author Affiliations
Joshua H. Colistra, Mahesh V. Panchagnula, Alparslan Öztekin, Sudhakar Neti, John Chen

Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA

Paper No. FEDSM2005-77459, pp. 287-292; 6 pages
  • ASME 2005 Fluids Engineering Division Summer Meeting
  • Volume 2: Fora
  • Houston, Texas, USA, June 19–23, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Fluids Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4199-5 | eISBN: 0-7918-3760-2
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


The Couette flow of two immiscible liquids is examined using flow visualization techniques. The flow dynamics are studied as a function of several independent parameters including gravity. The two fluids are initially separated by a sheet of aluminum sufficient in length to ensure that fully developed flow conditions are achieved for both fluids before they come in contact with each other. The experiments are performed for various flowrates of Canola Oil and Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) corresponding Reynolds numbers for Oil and PEG of 0 to 20 and 0.01 to 0.2 respectively. Photographic images of the flow field are recorded and analyzed with the aid of image analysis software to illustrate interfacial dynamics of the flow. A qualitative and quantitative analysis of the flow instability is performed for various inclinations of the test apparatus, including the extreme cases of upward vertical and downward vertical with the horizontal being the baseline test case. Neutral stability curves are identified for the range of variables studied in the experiments. The long wave instability is observed to be very periodic. At the onset of instability, the flow structure is three-dimensional and exhibits wave growth in the flow direction. The wave growth ultimately results in droplet pinch off from the crest of a folded wave. At a constant relative velocity, the wave length is at a minimum when the flow is oriented in the upward vertical direction, opposing gravity. For a given PEG flowrate, the critical Oil flowrate for the onset of interfacial instability decreases as the angle increases. These results indicate gravity enhanced Kelvin-Helmholtz interfacial instability even for low Reynolds numbers. Through a course of systematic variation of flow angles we have been able to separate the effects of inertia, gravity (buoyancy) and viscous shear forces on the wavelength of instability.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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