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

James Sprittles, Yulii Shikhmurzaev

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14 Citations (Scopus)
218 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279–306
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Early online date22 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


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