Asymmetric flows of complex fluids past confined cylinders: A comprehensive numerical study with experimental validation

Stylianos Varchanis, Cameron C. Hopkins, Amy Q. Shen, John Tsamopoulos, Simon J. Haward

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44 Scopus citations


Three non-Newtonian constitutive models are employed to investigate how fluid rheological properties influence the development of laterally asymmetric flows past confined cylinders. First, simulations with the shear-thinning but inelastic Carreau-Yasuda model are compared against complementary flow velocimetry experiments on a semidilute xanthan gum solution, showing that shear-thinning alone is insufficient to cause flow asymmetry. Next, simulations with an elastic but non-shear-thinning finitely extensible non-linear elastic dumbbell model are compared with experiments on a constant viscosity solution of poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) in an aqueous glycerol mixture. The simulations and the experiments reveal the development of an extended downstream wake due to elastic stresses generated at the stagnation point but show no significant lateral asymmetries of the flow around the sides of the cylinder. Finally, the elastic and shear-thinning linear Phan-Thien-Tanner (l-PTT) model is compared with experimental velocimetry on a rheologically similar solution of PEO in water. Here, at low flow rates, lateral symmetry is retained, while the growth of a downstream elastic wake is observed, in qualitative similarity to the non-shear-thinning elastic fluids. However, above a critical flow rate, the flow bifurcates to one of the two stable and steady laterally asymmetric states. Further parameter studies with the l-PTT model are performed by varying the degrees of shear-thinning and elasticity and also modifying the confinement of the cylinder. These tests confirm the importance of the coupling between shear-thinning and elasticity for the onset of asymmetric flows and also establish stability and bifurcation diagrams delineating the stable and unstable flow states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0008783
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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