This study addresses gas–liquid two-phase flows in polymer (PMMA) micro-channels with non-molecularly smooth and poorly wetting walls (typical contact angle of 65°) unlike previous studies conducted on highly wetting molecularly smooth materials (e.g., glass/silicon). Four fundamentally different topological flow regimes (Capillary Bubbly, Segmented, Annular, Dry) were identified along with two transitory ones (Segmented/Annular, Annular/Dry) and regime boundaries were identified from the two different test chips. The regime transition boundaries were influenced by the geometry of the two-phase injection, the aspect ratio of the test micro-channels, and potentially the chip material as evidenced from comparisons with the results of previous studies. Three principal Segmented flow sub-regimes (1, 2, and 3) were identified on the basis of quantified topological characteristics, each closely correlated with two-phase flow pressure drop trends. Irregularity of the Segmented regimes and related influencing factors were addressed and discussed. The average bubble length associated with the Segmented flows scaled approximately with a power law of the liquid volumetric flow ratio, which depends on aspect ratio, liquid superficial velocity, and the injection system. A simplified semi-empirical geometric model of gas bubble and liquid plug volumes provided good estimates of liquid plug length for most of the segmented regime cases and for all test-channel aspect ratios. The two-phase flow pressure drop was measured for the square test channels. Each Segmented flow sub-regime was associated with different trends in the pressure drop scaled by the viscous scale. These trends were explained in terms of the quantified flow topology (measured gas bubble and liquid plug lengths) and the number of bubble/plug pairs. Significant quantitative differences were found between the two-phase pressure drop in the polymer micro-channels of this study and those obtained from previous glass/silicon micro-channel studies, indicating that the effect of wall surface properties is important. Pressure drop trends on the capillary scale along gas bubbles extracted from the measurements in square micro-channels indicated a linear dependence on the Capillary number and did not agree with those predicted by highly idealized theory primarily because explicit and implicit assumptions in the theory were not relevant to practical conditions in this study.
Experiments in Fluids – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 22, 2011
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