Journal of Fluid Mechanics

The motion of rigid particles in a shear flow at low Reynolds number

F. P.  Bretherton a1
a1 Trinity College, Cambridge

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According to Jeffery (1923) the axis of an isolated rigid neutrally buoyant ellipsoid of revolution in a uniform simple shear at low Reynolds number moves in one of a family of closed periodic orbits, the centre of the particle moving with the velocity of the undisturbed fluid at that point. The present work is a theoretical investigation of how far the orbit of a particle of more general shape in a non-uniform shear in the presence of rigid boundaries may be expected to be qualitatively similar. Inertial and non-Newtonian effects are entirely neglected.

The orientation of the axis of almost any body of revolution is a periodic function of time in any unidirectional flow, and also in a Couette viscometer. This is also true if there is a gravitational force on the particle in the direction of the streamlines. There is no lateral drift. On the other hand, certain extreme shapes, including some bodies of revolution, will assume one of two orientations and migrate to the bounding surfaces or to the centre of the flow. In any constant slightly three-dimensional uniform shear any body of revolution will ultimately assume a preferred orientation.

(Published Online March 28 2006)
(Received June 19 1961)
(Revised March 23 1962)