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Spheres in the vicinity of a bifurcation: elucidating the Zweifach–Fung effect

  • V. DOYEUX (a1), T. PODGORSKI (a1), S. PEPONAS (a1), M. ISMAIL (a1) and G. COUPIER (a1)...

The problem of the splitting of a suspension in bifurcating channels divided into two branches of non-equal flow rates is addressed. As has long been observed, in particular in blood flow studies, the volume fraction of particles generally increases in the high-flow-rate branch and decreases in the low-flow-rate branch. In the literature, this phenomenon is sometimes interpreted as the result of some attraction of the particles towards this high-flow-rate branch. In this paper, we focus on the existence of such an attraction through microfluidic experiments and two-dimensional simulations and show clearly that such an attraction does not occur but is, on the contrary, directed towards the low-flow-rate branch. Arguments for this attraction are given and a discussion on the sometimes misleading arguments found in the literature is given. Finally, the enrichment of particles in the high-flow-rate branch is shown to be mainly a consequence of the initial distribution in the inlet branch, which shows necessarily some depletion near the walls.

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