a1 IRPHE, Université de Provence, Aix–Marseille 1, Technopôle de Château-Gombert, 49, rue Frédéric Joliot-Curie, 13384 Marseille Cedex 13, France
The fragmentation of a laminar undulating liquid sheet flowing in quiescent air is investigated. Combining various observations and measurements we propose a sequential atomization scenario describing the overall sheet–drop transition in this configuration. The undulation results from a controlled primary Kelvin–Helmholtz instability. As the liquid travels through the undulating pattern, it experiences transient accelerations perpendicular to the sheet. These accelerations trigger a secondary instability responsible for the amplification of spanwise thickness modulations of the sheet. This mechanism, called the ‘wavy corridor’, is responsible for the sheet free edge indentations from which liquid ligaments emerge and break, forming drops. The final drop size distribution is of a Gamma type characterized by a unique parameter independent of the operating conditions once drop sizes are normalized by their mean.
(Received June 13 2006)
(Revised March 27 2007)
c1 Also at: Institut Universitaire de France.