Dynamics of liquid drops coalescing in the inertial regime

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Colleges, School and Institutes


We examine the dynamics of two coalescing liquid drops in the “inertial regime,” where the effects of viscosity are negligible and the propagation of the front of the bridge connecting the drops can be considered as “local.” The solution fully computed in the framework of classical fluid mechanics allows this regime to be identified, and the accuracy of the approximating scaling laws proposed to describe the propagation of the bridge to be established. It is shown that the scaling law known for this regime has a very limited region of accuracy, and,
as a result, in describing experimental data it has frequently been applied outside its limits of applicability. The origin of the scaling law’s shortcoming appears to be the fact that it accounts for the capillary pressure due only
to the longitudinal curvature of the free surface as the driving force for the process. To address this deficiency, the scaling law is extended to account for both the longitudinal and azimuthal curvatures at the bridge front, which,
fortuitously, still results in an explicit analytic expression for the front’s propagation speed. This expression is shown to offer an excellent approximation for both the fully computed solution and for experimental data from a
range of flow configurations for a remarkably large proportion of the coalescence process. The derived formula allows one to predict the speed at which drops coalesce for the duration of the inertial regime, which should be useful for the analysis of experimental data.


Original languageEnglish
Article number063008
JournalPhysical Review E (Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2014