Upstream wall vortices in viscoelastic flow past a cylinder

Cameron C. Hopkins, Simon J. Haward, Amy Q. Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We report a novel inertia-less, elastic flow instability for a viscoelastic, shear-thinning wormlike micellar solution flowing past a microcylinder in a channel with blockage ratio BR = 2R/W = 0.5 and aspect ratio α = H/W ≈ 5, where R ≈ 100 μm is the cylinder radius, W is the channel width, and H is the channel height. The instability manifests upstream of the cylinder and changes form with increasing Weissenberg number over the range 0.5 ≲ Wi = Uλ/R ≲ 900, where U is the average flow velocity and λ is the terminal relaxation time of the fluid. Beyond a first critical Wi, the instability begins as a bending of the streamlines near the upstream pole of the cylinder that breaks the symmetry of the flow. Beyond a second critical Wi, small, time-steady, and approximately symmetric wall-attached vortices form upstream of the cylinder. Beyond a third critical Wi, the flow becomes time dependent and pulses with a characteristic frequency commensurate with the breakage timescale of the wormlike micelles. This is accompanied by a breaking of the symmetry of the wall-attached vortices, where one vortex becomes considerably larger than the other. Finally, beyond a fourth critical Wi, a vortex forms attached to the upstream pole of the cylinder whose length fluctuates in time. The flow is highly time dependent, and the cylinder-attached vortex and wall-attached vortices compete dynamically for space and time in the channel. Our results add to the rapidly growing understanding of viscoelastic flow instabilities in microfluidic geometries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4868-4880
Number of pages13
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 13 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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