Numerical Simulation of the Effect of Rheological Parameters on Shear-Thinning Droplet Formation

Voon Loong Wong, Katerina Loizou, Phei-Li Lau, Richard S. Graham, Buddhika N. Hewakandamby

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Immiscible non-Newtonian-Newtonian fluid systems in microfluidics constitute an essential study as non-Newtonian fluids consistently met in medical and biological systems. Although a large number of experimental investigations have been reported in this area, attempts to develop predictive models appear to be limited. This paper is an attempt to incorporate a non-Newtonian stress model together with front-tracking scheme used in computational fluid dynamics. A conservative two-phase level set method (LSM) was applied for capturing the droplet breakup dynamics and relevant hydrodynamics of shear-thinning carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) droplets. Our droplets comprise of 0.02wt% to 1.2wt% CMC solutions in a Newtonian continuous fluids system (olive oil) employed in a T-shaped microfluidic cell. A Carreau-Yasuda viscosity model for shear-thinning CMC droplets has been implemented. This shear-dependent constitutive model fitted well to our steady state non-linear shear measurements for polymeric CMC solutions, with asymptotic viscosities at zero and infinite shear rates, and with different degrees of shear thinning (η0/η∞) in steady state. The particular focus of this study was to systematically undergo parametric studies on the influence of rheological parameters of the specified model such as zero (η0) and infinite shear viscosity (η∞), and relaxation time (λ) on the droplet formation processes. The level set simulation predicted that the droplet diameter increases with increasing η0/η∞. The effect of η0/η∞ has been found to have more prominent impact on droplet diameter for higher CMC concentrations. The variation in droplet diameter becomes less significant at the higher degrees of shear-thinning for all concentrations of CMC dispersed solutions. In the limit of zero shear-thinning effect, the droplet diameter increases when the dispersed phase viscosity decreases. Additionally, the effect of λ on the droplet diameter is also discussed. The reciprocal of the characteristic relaxation time (1/λ) corresponds to a critical shear rate that indicates the onset shear rate for shear-thinning. As λ increases, the numerical studies clearly reveal that the droplet diameter is increasing until it reaches a plateau for larger values of λ. The influence of λ leads to a more significant impact on droplet diameter for higher CMC concentration. These findings will ultimately help in understanding the sensitivity of rheological parameters to the microdroplet formation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASME 2014 4th Joint US-European Fluids Engineering Division Summer Meeting collocated with the ASME 2014 12th International Conference on Nanochannels, Microchannels, and Minichannels
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)978-0-7918-4626-1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2014

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