Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Direct numerical simulations of bubbly flows Part 2. Moderate Reynolds number arrays

a1 Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA


Direct numerical simulations of the motion of two- and three-dimensional finite Reynolds number buoyant bubbles in a periodic domain are presented. The full Navier–Stokes equations are solved by a finite difference/front tracking method that allows a fully deformable interface between the bubbles and the ambient fluid and the inclusion of surface tension. The rise Reynolds numbers are around 20–30 for the lowest volume fraction, but decrease as the volume fraction is increased. The rise of a regular array of bubbles, where the relative positions of the bubbles are fixed, is compared with the evolution of a freely evolving array. Generally, the freely evolving array rises slower than the regular one, in contrast to what has been found earlier for low Reynolds number arrays. The structure of the bubble distribution is examined and it is found that while the three-dimensional bubbles show a tendency to line up horizontally, the two-dimensional bubbles are nearly randomly distributed. The effect of the number of bubbles in each period is examined for the two-dimensional system and it is found that although the rise Reynolds number is nearly independent of the number of bubbles, the velocity fluctuations in the liquid (the Reynolds stresses) increase with the size of the system. While some aspects of the fully three-dimensional flows, such as the reduction in the rise velocity, are predicted by results for two-dimensional bubbles, the structure of the bubble distribution is not. The magnitude of the Reynolds stresses is also greatly over-predicted by the two-dimensional results.

(Received February 2 1997)
(Revised November 13 1998)