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Stability of thermocapillary flows in non-cylindrical liquid bridges

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 May 2002

ZARM, Universität Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
ZARM, Universität Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany


The thermocapillary flow in liquid bridges is investigated numerically. In the limit of large mean surface tension the free-surface shape is independent of the flow and temperature fields and depends only on the volume of liquid and the hydrostatic pressure difference. When gravity acts parallel to the axis of the liquid bridge the shape is axisymmetric. A differential heating of the bounding circular disks then causes a steady two-dimensional thermocapillary flow which is calculated by a finite-difference method on body-fitted coordinates. The linear-stability problem for the basic flow is solved using azimuthal normal modes computed with the same discretization method. The dependence of the critical Reynolds number on the volume fraction, gravity level, Prandtl number, and aspect ratio is explained by analysing the energy budgets of the neutral modes. For small Prandtl numbers (Pr = 0.02) the critical Reynolds number exhibits a smooth minimum near volume fractions which approximately correspond to the volume of a cylindrical bridge. When the Prandtl number is large (Pr = 4) the intersection of two neutral curves results in a sharp peak of the critical Reynolds number. Since the instabilities for low and high Prandtl numbers are markedly different, the influence of gravity leads to a distinctly different behaviour. While the hydrostatic shape of the bridge is the most important effect of gravity on the critical point for low-Prandtl-number flows, buoyancy is the dominating factor for the stability of the flow in a gravity field when the Prandtl number is high.

Research Article
© 2002 Cambridge University Press

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