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A parametric study of the coalescence of liquid drops in a viscous gas

  • James E. Sprittles and Yulii D. Shikhmurzaev

The coalescence of two liquid drops surrounded by a viscous gas is considered in the framework of the conventional model. The problem is solved numerically with particular attention paid to resolving the very initial stage of the process which only recently has become accessible both experimentally and computationally. A systematic study of the parameter space of practical interest allows the influence of the governing parameters in the system to be identified and the role of viscous gas to be determined. In particular, it is shown that the viscosity of the gas suppresses the formation of toroidal bubbles predicted in some cases by early computations where the gas’ dynamics was neglected. Focusing computations on the very initial stages of coalescence and considering the large parameter space allows us to examine the accuracy and limits of applicability of various ‘scaling laws’ proposed for different ‘regimes’ and, in doing so, reveal certain inconsistencies in recent works. A comparison with experimental data shows that the conventional model is able to reproduce many qualitative features of the initial stages of coalescence, such as a collapse of calculations onto a ‘master curve’ but, quantitatively, overpredicts the observed speed of coalescence and there are no free parameters to improve the fit. Finally, a phase diagram of parameter space, differing from previously published ones, is used to illustrate the key findings.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
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