Experiments were performed in a vertical channel to study the behaviour of a monodisperse bubble suspension for which the dual limit of large Reynolds number and small Weber number was satisfied. Measurements of the liquid-phase velocity fluctuations were obtained with a hot-wire anemometer. The gas volume fraction, bubble velocity, bubble velocity fluctuations and bubble collision rate were measured using a dual impedance probe. Digital image analysis was performed to quantify the small polydispersity of the bubbles as well as the bubble shape.
A rapid decrease in bubble velocity with bubble concentration in very dilute suspensions is attributed to the effects of bubble–wall collisions. The more gradual subsequent hindering of bubble motion is in qualitative agreement with the predictions of Spelt & Sangani (1998) for the effects of potential-flow bubble–bubble interactions on the mean velocity. The ratio of the bubble velocity variance to the square of the mean is O(0.1). For these conditions Spelt & Sangani predict that the homogeneous suspension will be unstable and clustering into horizontal rafts will take place. Evidence for bubble clustering is obtained by analysis of video images. The fluid velocity variance is larger than would be expected for a homogeneous suspension and the fluid velocity frequency spectrum indicates the presence of velocity fluctuations that are slow compared with the time for the passage of an individual bubble. These observations provide further evidence for bubble clustering.
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