Indexed on: 27 Jan '16Published on: 27 Jan '16Published in: The European Physical Journal E
The effects of viscoelasticity on the dynamics and break-up of fluid threads in microfluidic T-junctions are investigated using numerical simulations of dilute polymer solutions at changing the Capillary number (Ca), i.e. at changing the balance between the viscous forces and the surface tension at the interface, up to Ca [Formula: see text] 3×10(-2). A Navier-Stokes (NS) description of the solvent based on the lattice Boltzmann models (LBM) is here coupled to constitutive equations for finite extensible non-linear elastic dumbbells with the closure proposed by Peterlin (FENE-P model). We present the results of three-dimensional simulations in a range of Ca which is broad enough to characterize all the three characteristic mechanisms of break-up in the confined T-junction, i.e. squeezing, dripping and jetting regimes. The various model parameters of the FENE-P constitutive equations, including the polymer relaxation time [Formula: see text] and the finite extensibility parameter L(2), are changed to provide quantitative details on how the dynamics and break-up properties are affected by viscoelasticity. We will analyze cases with Droplet Viscoelasticity (DV), where viscoelastic properties are confined in the dispersed (d) phase, as well as cases with Matrix Viscoelasticity (MV), where viscoelastic properties are confined in the continuous (c) phase. Moderate flow-rate ratios Q [Formula: see text] O(1) of the two phases are considered in the present study. Overall, we find that the effects are more pronounced in the case with MV, as the flow driving the break-up process upstream of the emerging thread can be sensibly perturbed by the polymer stresses.