Shear flow of a suspension of bubbles rising in an inclined channel

Roberto Zenit, Ying H. Tsang, Donald L. Koch, Ashok S. Sangani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A weak, laminar shear flow of a monodisperse suspension of high-Reynolds-number, low-Weber-number bubbles is studied in a novel experimental configuration. Nitrogen bubbles are formed through an array of small capillaries at the base of a tall channel with a small inclination from the vertical. The bubbles generate a unidirectional shear flow, in which the denser suspension near the bottom wall falls and the lighter suspension near the top wall rises. Profiles of the bubble and liquid velocities and the bubble volume fraction are obtained using hot-film and dual impedance probes. To our knowledge, measurements of the laminar shear properties of a nearly homogeneous bubble suspension have not previously been reported. A steady shear flow is observed in which the bubble velocity variation across the channel is typically less than 20% of the mean bubble velocity. The velocity and volume fraction gradients increase with channel inclination and exhibit little or no dependence on the mean gas volume fraction. To explain the magnitude of the volume fraction gradients, it is necessary to consider the effects of both the lift force and the effective bubble-phase diffusivity in balancing the segregating tendency of the cross-channel component of the buoyancy force. The bubble velocity gradient can be understood in terms of a balance of the component of the buoyancy force parallel to the channel walls and an effective viscosity associated with the Reynolds stresses produced by bubble-induced liquid velocity fluctuations. Theories for bubbles rising with potential-flow hydrodynamic interactions predict an instability of the homogeneous state due to a negative Maxwell pressure. However, the hydrodynamic diffusivity inferred from our experiments is large enough to mitigate the clustering effects of the Maxwell pressure. Consistent with this, a vigorous instability of the homogeneous state of the bubble suspension is only observed at volume fractions larger than 5%-20% with the critical volume fraction depending on the angle of inclination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-292
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Sep 25 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Shear flow of a suspension of bubbles rising in an inclined channel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this