Evaluation of constitutive models for shear-banding wormlike micellar solutions in simple and complex flows

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Wormlike micellar solutions possess complex rheology: when exposed to a flow field, the wormlike micelles may orientate, stretch, and break into smaller micelles. Entangled wormlike micellar solutions exhibit shear banding characteristics: macroscopic bands with different local viscosities are organized and stacked along the velocity gradient direction, leading to a non-monotonic flow curve in simple shear. We present a systematic analysis of four commonly used constitutive models that can predict a non-monotonic flow curve and potentially describe the rheology of entangled wormlike micellar solutions with shear-banding characteristics: the Johnson–Segalman, the Giesekus, the thixotropic viscoelastic, and the Vasquez–Cook–McKinley (VCM) models. All four constitutive models contain a stress diffusion term, to account for a smooth transition between the shear bands and ensure a uniqueness of the numerical solution. Initially, the models are fitted to shear and extensional experimental data of a shear-banding wormlike micellar solution. Subsequently, they are employed to solve three non-homogeneous flows: the Poiseuille flow in a planar channel, the flow in a cross-slot geometry, and the flow past a cylinder in a straight channel. Each of these flows exposes the wormlike micellar solution to different flow kinematics (shear, extensional, and mixed), revealing different aspects of its rheological response. The predictive capability of each model is evaluated by directly comparing the numerical results to previously published experimental data obtained from microfluidic devices with corresponding flow configurations. While all the models can describe qualitatively the characteristic features observed experimentally in the benchmark flows, such as plug-like velocity profiles and elastic instabilities, none of them yields a quantitative agreement. Based on the overall performance of the models and also accounting for their differing numerical complexity, we conclude that the Giesekus model is at present the most suitable constitutive equation for simulating shear banding wormlike micellar solutions in flows that exhibit both shear and extensional deformations. However, the quantitative mismatch between model predictions and experiments with wormlike micellar solutions demand that improved constitutive models be developed in future works.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104855
JournalJournal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Bi-stability
  • Cross-slot
  • Elastic instability
  • Flow past a cylinder
  • Giesekus
  • Johnson–Segalman
  • Poiseuille flow
  • Shear-banding
  • Stress diffusion
  • Thixotropic
  • VCM
  • Viscoelastic
  • Wormlike micellar solution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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