Conditional stability of particle alignment in finite-Reynolds-number channel flow

Abstract : Finite-size neutrally buoyant particles in a channel flow are known to accumulate at specific equilibrium positions or spots in the channel cross-section, if the flow inertia is finite at the particle scale. Experiments in different conduit geometries have shown that while reaching equilibrium locations, particles tend also to align regularly in the streamwise direction. In this paper, the force coupling method was used to numerically investigate the inertia-induced particle alignment, using square-channel geometry. The method was first shown to be suitable to capture the quasisteady lift force that leads to particle cross-streamline migration in channel flow. Then the particle alignment in the flow direction was investigated by calculating the particle relative trajectories as a function of flow inertia and of the ratio between the particle size and channel hydraulic diameter. The flow streamlines were examined around the freely rotating particles at equilibrium, revealing stable small-scale vortices between aligned particles. The streamwise interparticle spacing between aligned particles at equilibrium was calculated and compared to available experimental data in square-channel flow [Gao et al., Microfluid. Nanofluid. 21, 154 (2017)]. The new result highlighted by our numerical simulations is that the interparticle spacing is unconditionally stable only for a limited number of aligned particles in a single train, the threshold number being dependent on the confinement (particle-to-channel size ratio) and on the Reynolds number. For instance, when the particle Reynolds number is ≈1 and the particle-to-channel height size ratio is ≈0.1, the maximum number of stable aligned particles per train is equal to 3. This agrees with statistics realized on the experiments of [Gao et al., Microfluid. Nanofluid. 21, 154 (2017)]. It is argued that when several particles are hydrodynamically connected moving as a unique structure (the train) with a steady streamwise velocity, large-scale hydrodynamic perturbations induced at the train scale prohibit small-scale vortex connection between the leading and second particles, forcing the leading particle to leave the train.
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Anupam Gupta, Pascale Magaud, Christine Lafforgue, Micheline Abbas. Conditional stability of particle alignment in finite-Reynolds-number channel flow. Physical Review Fluids, American Physical Society, 2018, 3 (11), ⟨10.1103/PhysRevFluids.3.114302⟩. ⟨hal-02145949⟩

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