The influence of the gas phase on liquid imbibition in capillary tubes

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The imbibition of liquid into a capillary tube is studied both theoretically and experimentally for sufficiently long tubes where viscous resistance from the gas phase ahead of the moving front is significant. At early times, and as the length of the tube is increased, we observe a systematic deviation from classical theory that cannot be attributed to the inertia of the liquid nor entrance effects. Instead, this behaviour is rationalized by considering the viscous resistance from the gas as it is displaced by the liquid. An explicit analytical solution for a one-dimensional description of the flow is given that accounts for viscous resistance from the displaced fluid. Excellent agreement between experiment and theory is obtained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-606
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jul 10 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Capillary flows


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