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Extensional rheology and elastic instabilities of a wormlike micellar solution in a microfluidic cross-slot device

Haward, S.J. and Ober, Thomas J. and Oliveira, Monica and Alves, M.A. and McKinley, G.H. (2012) Extensional rheology and elastic instabilities of a wormlike micellar solution in a microfluidic cross-slot device. Soft Matter, 8 (2). pp. 536-555. ISSN 1744-6848

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Wormlike micellar surfactant solutions are encountered in a wide variety of important applications, including enhanced oil recovery and ink-jet printing, in which the fluids are subjected to high extensional strain rates. In this contribution we present an experimental investigation of the flow of a model wormlike micellar solution (cetyl pyridinium chloride and sodium salicylate in deionised water) in a well-defined stagnation point extensional flow field generated within a microfluidic cross-slot device. We use micro-particle image velocimetry (m-PIV) and full-field birefringence microscopy coupled with macroscopic measurements of the bulk pressure drop to make a quantitative characterization of the fluid’s rheological response over a wide range of deformation rates. The flow field in the micromachined cross-slot is first characterized for viscous flow of a Newtonian fluid, and m-PIV measurements show the flow field remains symmetric and stable up to moderately high Reynolds number, Re z 20, and nominal strain rate, _3nom z 635 s1. By contrast, in the viscoelastic micellar solution the flow field remains symmetric only for low values of the strain rate such that _3nom # lM1, where lM ¼ 2.5 s is the Maxwell relaxation time of the fluid. In this stable flow regime the fluid displays a localized and elongated birefringent strand extending along the outflow streamline from the stagnation point, and estimates of the apparent extensional viscosity can be obtained using the stressoptical rule and from the total pressure drop measured across the cross-slot channel. For moderate deformation rates (_3nom $ lM1) the flow remains steady, but becomes increasingly asymmetric with increasing flow rate, eventually achieving a steady state of complete anti-symmetry characterized by a dividing streamline and birefringent strand connecting diagonally opposite corners of the cross-slot. Eventually, as the nominal imposed deformation rate is increased further, the asymmetric divided flow becomes time dependent. These purely elastic instabilities are reminiscent of those observed in crossslot flows of polymer solutions, but seem to be strongly influenced by the effects of shear localization of the micellar fluid within the microchannels and around the re-entrant corners of the cross-slot.