Rheological effects on the levelling dynamics of thin fluid films

Gulraiz Ahmed, Mathieu Sellier*, Yeaw Chu Lee, Mark Jermy, Michael Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to investigate numerically the effect of rheology on the leveling of thin fluid films on horizontal solid substrates.

Design/methodology/approach - A mathematical model based on the lubrication approximation which defines non-Newtonian rheology using a Power-law model is presented. The rheology is described by two parameters: the consistency factor and the flow behavior index. The resulting highly non-linear coupled set of equations is discretized using Finite-Difference and the resulting algebraic system is solved via an efficient Multigrid algorithm.

Findings - Importantly, the non-dimensionalization process leads to a pair of Partial Differential Equations which depends on one parameter only, the flow behavior index. The authors show that the consistency factor only affects the time scale of the leveling process, hence stretching or contracting the time line. Results for the leveling of sinusoidal perturbations of the fluid film highlights important differences between the leveling of shear-thinning and shear-thickening fluids. In a normalized time frame, the onset of leveling occurs earlier for the shear-thinning fluid than for the shear-thickening one. However, the dimensionless leveling rate is higher for the shearthickening fluid than the shear-thinning one. This results in a "threshold thickness" which delimits two regimes: the shear-thinning fluid levels to a thickness above this threshold faster than the shear-thickening fluid but the opposite is true for a film thickness below this threshold. An important aspect of this study is the verification of the numerical implementation using the Method of Manufactured Solutions (MMS), a first in the context of thin film studies. The paper also highlights differences between the leveling of two-dimensional and three-dimensional thickness perturbations.

Originality/value - The study of the leveling of disturbances at the free surface of a liquid film using a Power-law rheological model does not appear to have been covered in the literature. Also, the paper uses the MMS to test the validity of the implementation. This appears to be the first time it has been used in the context of the lubrication approximation. Finally, unlike most prior studies, the work does away with the planar assumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1850-1867
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat and Fluid Flow
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Leveling
  • Lubrication approximation
  • Method of manufactured solution
  • Power-law rheology
  • Thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Rheological effects on the levelling dynamics of thin fluid films'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this