Direct numerical simulation of bubble-bubble and droplet-droplet interaction using a Surface Thin Film model

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This dissertation deals with the simulation of dispersed multiphase flow. The particle-particle and particle-fluid interactions in this class of flows play an important role on the hydrodynamics and fluid transport phenomena that govern the overall flow behaviour. Accurate computational modelling of the particle-particle and particle- fluid interactions is thus required to correctly model the flow. The aim of this study is to use a Direct Numerical Simulation approach based on a smoothed Volume Of Fluid method to model particle-particle interactions in a dispersed multiphase flow at a fundamental level, and employing a surface thin film model, to drastically reduce the computational effort required. A multiscale modelling approach is followed with the smoothed Volume Of Fluid simulation on the particle scale and the surface thin film model simulation on the thin- film scale. The resulting governing equations are the Navier-Stokes equations for an incompressible viscous multiphase Newtonian fluid undergoing laminar and isothermal three-dimensional flow, the interface advection equation and the reduced order surface thin film equation. The model equations are discretized using the Finite Volume Method and implemented into the open source software OpenFOAM®. The numerical solution is obtained by solving the resulting non-linear system of equations implicitly on a structured computational grid on parallel processors using a pressure correction algorithm to converge the pressure at each time step. The study is restricted to gas-liquid systems where particles could either be bubbles or droplets; rigid particles are not considered. The model is tested against experimental results from binary collision of hydrocarbon droplets. Good qualitative numerical results are obtained at a practical computational cost.