Stability of the shape of a translating viscoelastic drop at low Reynolds number

H. Wu, H. Haj-Hariri, A. Borhan

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We examine the stability of the shape of a viscoelastic drop translating in an immiscible, otherwise quiescent Newtonian fluid at low Reynolds number. Non-Newtonian stresses in the drop phase are characterized by the finitely extensible nonlinear elastic-Chilcott-Rallison model. A boundary integral method is used to numerically examine the time-evolution of initially perturbed drop shapes over a range of dimensionless parameters. For sufficiently small capillary numbers, the drop achieves an oblate spheroidal steady shape. For large initial deformations or capillary numbers, however, the drop deforms continuously and eventually breaks up through either the formation of an elongated tail or the development of a re-entrant cavity at its trailing end. These mechanisms of drop breakup are qualitatively similar to those reported earlier for Newtonian drops [C. J. Koh and L. G. Leal, Phys. Fluids A1, 1309 (1989)10.1063/1.857359;C. Pozrikidis, J. Fluid Mech.210, 1 (1990)10.1017/S0022112090001203;H. A. Stone, Annu. Rev. Fluid Mech.26, 65 (1994)10.1146/annurev.fl.26.010194.000433]. Compared to the case of a Newtonian drop, drop phase elasticity is found to have a stabilizing (destabilizing) effect for initially oblate (prolate) shape perturbations, due to the development of polymeric stresses caused by deformation of polymer chains in alignment with streamlines of the flow. Polymer viscosity has a strong influence on the stability of the shape of drops, whereas polymer relaxation time and extensibility have relatively weak influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113101
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 6 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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