Collision dynamics and internal mixing of droplets of non-Newtonian liquids

Kai Sun, Peng Zhang, Chung K. Law, Tianyou Wang

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31 Scopus citations


The efficient internal mixing of colliding droplets upon coalescence is critical to various technological processes such as color manipulation in ink-jet printing and the initiation of the liquid-phase reaction of gelled hypergolic propellants in rocket engines. Recognizing that such processes can be optimized by varying the impact inertia as well as employing fluids of non-Newtonian rheology, the head-on collision, coalescence, and internal mixing pattern between two impacting equal-sized droplets of non-Newtonian fluids is computationally investigated by using the lattice Boltzmann method. Results show that, with increasing non-Newtonian effects, droplet deformation and separation following coalescence is promoted for shear-thinning fluids, while permanent coalescence allowing an extended duration for mixing is promoted for shear-thickening fluids. Furthermore, large-scale internal mixing is promoted for the colliding droplets with larger shear-thinning disparity, while coalescence and mixing is synergistically facilitated for the collision between a shear-thinning droplet and a shear-thickening droplet. The individual and coupled influences of viscosity on the droplet deformation and impact inertia, internal motion, viscous loss, and merging of the colliding interfaces leading to the observed outcomes are mechanistically identified and described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number054013
JournalPhysical Review Applied
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 24 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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