Visualization of polymer relaxation in viscoelastic turbulent micro-channel flow
Lim, Chun Ping
Lam, Yee Cheong
Date of Issue2015
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
In micro-channels, the flow of viscous liquids e.g. water, is laminar due to the low Reynolds number in miniaturized dimensions. An aqueous solution becomes viscoelastic with a minute amount of polymer additives; its flow behavior can become drastically different and turbulent. However, the molecules are typically invisible. Here we have developed a novel visualization technique to examine the extension and relaxation of polymer molecules at high flow velocities in a viscoelastic turbulent flow. Using high speed videography to observe the fluorescein labeled molecules, we show that viscoelastic turbulence is caused by the sporadic, non-uniform release of energy by the polymer molecules. This developed technique allows the examination of a viscoelastic liquid at the molecular level, and demonstrates the inhomogeneity of viscoelastic liquids as a result of molecular aggregation. It paves the way for a deeper understanding of viscoelastic turbulence, and could provide some insights on the high Weissenberg number problem. In addition, the technique may serve as a useful tool for the investigations of polymer drag reduction.
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