Dynamics of isolated confined air bubbles in liquid flows through circular microchannels: an experimental and numerical study
Experimental and numerical studies are performed to characterise the dynamics of isolated confined air bubbles in laminar fully developed liquid flows within channels of diameters d = 0.5 mm and d = 1 mm. Water and glycerol are used as the continuous liquid phase, and therefore, a large range of flow capillary numbers 10(-4) < Ca < 10(-1) and Reynolds numbers 10(-3) < Re < 10(3) are covered. An extensive investigation is performed on the effect of bubble size and flow capillary number on different flow parameters, such as the shape and velocity of bubbles, thickness of the liquid film formed between the bubbles and the channel wall, and the development lengths in front and at the back of the bubbles. The micro-particle shadow velocimetry technique (mu PSV) is employed in the experimental measurements allowing simultaneous quantification of important flow parameters using a single sequence of high-speed greyscale images recorded at each test condition. Bubble volume and flow rate of the continuous liquid phase are precisely determined in the post-processing stage using the mu PSV images. These parameters are then used as initial and boundary conditions to set up CFD simulations reproducing the corresponding two-phase flow. Simulations based on the volume of fluid technique with the aim of capturing the interface dynamics are performed with both ANSYS Fluent v. 14.5, here augmented by implementing self-defined functions to improve the accuracy of the surface tension force estimation, and ESI OpenFOAM v. 2.1.1. The present approach not only results in valuable findings on the underlying physics involved in the problem of interest but also allows us to directly compare and validate results that are currently obtained by the experimental and computational methods. It is believed that similar methodology can be employed to rigorously investigate more complex two-phase flow regimes in micro-geometries.