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Effect of the contraction ratio upon viscoelastic fluid flow in three-dimensional square-square contractions

Sousa, P.C. and Pinho, F.T. and Oliveira, Monica and Alves, M.A. (2011) Effect of the contraction ratio upon viscoelastic fluid flow in three-dimensional square-square contractions. Chemical Engineering Science, 66 (5). pp. 998-1009. ISSN 0009-2509

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In this work we investigate the laminar flow through square–square sudden contractions with various contraction ratios (CR¼2.4, 4,8and12), using a Newtonian fluid and a shear-thinning viscoelastic fluid. Visualizations of the flow patterns were carried out using streakline photography and detailed velocity field measurements were performed using particle image velocimetry. The experimental results are compared with numerical predictions obtained using a finite-volume method. For the Newtonian fluid, a corner vortex is found upstream of the contraction and increasing flow inertia leads to a reduction of the vortex size. Good agreement is observed between experiments and numerical simulations. For the shear-thinning fluid flow a corner vortex is also observed upstream of the contraction independently of the contraction ratio. Increasing the elasticity of the flow, while still maintaining low inertia flow conditions, leads to a strong increase of the vortex size, until an elastic instability sets in and the flow becomes time-dependent at DeE200, 300, 70 and 450 for CR¼2.4, 4, 8 and 12, respectively. At low contraction ratios, viscoelasticity brings out an anomalous divergent flow upstream of the contraction. For both fluids studied the flow presents a complex three-dimensional helical vortex structure which is well predicted by numerical simulations. However, for the viscoelastic fluid flow the maximum Deborah number achieved in the numerical simulations is about one order of magnitude lower than the critical Deborah number for the onset of the elastic instability found in the experiments.