Breakup of liquid droplets

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Khare, Prashant
Yang, Vigor
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Liquid droplet breakup and dynamics is a phenomena of immense practical importance in a wide variety of applications in science and engineering. Albeit, researchers have been studying this problem for over six decades, the fundamental physics governing droplet deformation and fragmentation is still unknown, not to mention the formulation and development of generalized correlations to predict droplet dynamics. The presence of disparate length and time scales, along with the complex unsteady physics, makes this a formidable problem, theoretically, experimentally and computationally. One of the important applications of interest and the motivation for the current research is a liquid fueled propulsion device, such as diesel, gas turbine or rocket engine. Droplet vaporization and ensuing combustion is accelerated if the droplet size is smaller, which makes any process leading to a reduction in drop size of prime importance in the combustion system design. This thesis is an attempt to address several unanswered questions currently confronting the spray community. Unanswered questions include identification and prediction of breakup modes at varying operating conditions, quantitative description of fundamental processes underlying droplet breakup and generalized correlations for child droplet size distributions and drag coefficient associated with the deformation and fragmentation of Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids. The present work is aimed at answering the above questions by investigating the detailed flowfield and structure dynamics of liquid droplet breakup process and extracting essential physics governing this complex multiphase phenomena. High-fidelity direct numerical simulations are conducted using a volume-of-fluid (VOF) interface capturing methodology. To isolate the hydrodynamic mechanisms dictating droplet breakup phenomena, evaporation and compressibility are neglected, and numerical studies are performed for incompressible fluids at isothermal conditions. For Newtonian fluids, four different mechanisms are identified- oscillatory, bag, multimode and shear breakup modes. Various events during the deformation and fragmentation process are quantitatively identified and correlations are developed to predict the breakup mechanisms and droplet size distributions for a broad range of operating conditions. It was found that for We > 300 and Oh < 0.1 for rho_l/rho_g = 8.29, the child droplet size distributions can be modeled by a log-normal distribution. A correlation to predict the sauter mean diameter, d32, is also developed, given by d32 / D = 8We^-0.72 / Cd. Temporal evolution of momentum balance and droplet structure are also used to calculate the drag coefficient at each time step from first principles. Results show that the drag coefficient first increases to a maximum as the droplet frontal area increases and then decreases at the initiation of breakup. The drag coefficient reaches a steady value at the end of droplet lifetime, corresponding to the momentum retained by the droplet. A correlation to predict the time-mean drag coefficient given by, Cd / Cd,0 = 2We-^0.175, is developed, which indicates that the time averaged drag coefficient decreases with Weber number. The motivation to study non-Newtonian liquid droplet breakup stems from the various advantages gelled propellants offer as compared to traditional liquid or solid propellants in combustion systems, particularly in rocket engines. It was found that the breakup behavior of pseudoplastic, non-Newtonian liquids is drastically different as compared to Newtonian droplets. Several flow features commonly exhibited by non-Newtonian fluids are observed during the breakup process. The breakup initiates with the formation of beads-in-a-string due to the non-Newtonian nature of the fluid under consideration. This is followed by rapid rotation of the droplet with the appearance of helical instability and liquid budges, which forms the sites for primary and satellite droplet shedding. Child droplet size distribution are also examined and it is found that a Gaussian curve universally characterizes the droplets produced during non-Newtonian droplet breakup process. To put all things in perspective, the objectives of the thesis were two folds: (1) elucidate breakup physics for Newtonian and non-Newtonian liquid droplet deformation and breakup, and (2) develop correlations which can be used in an Eulerian-Lagrangian framework to study large-scale engineering problems. It is hoped that this research contributed to droplet breakup and dynamics literature by providing a more thorough and quantitative understanding of the breakup phenomena of liquid droplets and furnished models which can be used in future research endeavors.
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