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  • Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Volume 498
  • January 2004, pp. 73-111

On spray formation

  • P. MARMOTTANT (a1) (a2) and E. VILLERMAUX (a1) (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2004

We depict and analyse the successive steps of atomization of a liquid jet when a fast gas stream blows parallel to its surface. Experiments performed with various liquids in a fast air flow show that the liquid destabilization proceeds from a two-stage mechanism: a shear instability first forms waves on the liquid. The transient acceleration experienced by the liquid suggests that a Rayleigh–Taylor type of instability is triggered at the wave crests, producing liquid ligaments which further stretch in the air stream and break into droplets. The primary wavelength $\lambda\,{\sim}\,\delta (\rho_{1}/\rho_{2})^{1/2}$ is set by the vorticity thickness $\delta$, in the fast air stream and the liquid/gas density ratio $\rho_{1}/\rho_{2}$. The transverse corrugations of the crests have a size $\lperp\,{\sim}\,\delta {\We_{\delta}}^{-1/3} (\rho_{1}/\rho_{2})^{1/3}$, where $\We_{\delta}\,{=}\,\rho_{2}u_{2}^{2}\delta/\sigma$ is the Weber number constructed on the gas velocity $u_{2}$ and liquid surface tension $\sigma$. The ligament dynamics gives rise, after break-up, to a well-defined droplet size distribution whose mean is given by $\lperp$. This distribution bears an exponential tail characteristic of the broad size statistics in airblast sprays.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-fluid-mechanics
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