A lattice Boltzmann study of the effects of viscoelasticity on droplet formation in microfluidic cross-junctions
Department of Physics and INFN, University of “Tor Vergata”, Via della Ricerca Scientifica 1, 00133, Rome, Italy
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Accepted: 17 December 2015
Published online: 25 January 2016
Based on mesoscale lattice Boltzmann (LB) numerical simulations, we investigate the effects of viscoelasticity on the break-up of liquid threads in microfluidic cross-junctions, where droplets are formed by focusing a liquid thread of a dispersed (d) phase into another co-flowing continuous (c) immiscible phase. Working at small Capillary numbers, we investigate the effects of non-Newtonian phases in the transition from droplet formation at the cross-junction (DCJ) to droplet formation downstream of the cross-junction (DC) (Liu and Zhang, Phys. Fluids. 23, 082101 (2011)). We will analyze cases with Droplet Viscoelasticity (DV), where viscoelastic properties are confined in the dispersed phase, as well as cases with Matrix Viscoelasticity (MV), where viscoelastic properties are confined in the continuous phase. Moderate flow-rate ratios of the two phases are considered in the present study. Overall, we find that the effects are more pronounced with MV, where viscoelasticity is found to influence the break-up point of the threads, which moves closer to the cross-junction and stabilizes. This is attributed to an increase of the polymer feedback stress forming in the corner flows, where the side channels of the device meet the main channel. Quantitative predictions on the break-up point of the threads are provided as a function of the Deborah number, i.e., the dimensionless number measuring the importance of viscoelasticity with respect to Capillary forces.
Key words: Topical Issue: Multi-scale phenomena in complex flows and flowing matter
© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2016