Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Buoyancy-dominated displacement flows in near-horizontal channels: the viscous limit

S. M. TAGHAVIa1, T. SEONa2, D. M. MARTINEZa1 and I. A. FRIGAARDa2a3 c1

a1 Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of British Columbia, 2360 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z3

a2 Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia, 1984 Mathematics Road, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2

a3 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of British Columbia, 6250 Applied Science Lane, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4


We consider the viscous limit of a plane channel miscible displacement flow of two generalized Newtonian fluids when buoyancy is significant. The channel is inclined close to horizontal. A lubrication/thin-film approximation is used to simplify the governing equations and a semi-analytical solution is found for the flux functions. We show that there are no steady travelling wave solutions to the interface propagation equation. At short times the diffusive effects of the interface slope are dominant and there is a flow reversal, relative to the mean flow. We are able to find a short-time similarity solution governing this initial counter-current flow. At longer times the solution behaviour can be predicted from the associated hyperbolic problem (where diffusive effects are set to zero). Each solution consists of a number N ≥ 1 of steadily propagating fronts of differing speeds, joined together by segments of interface that are stretched between the fronts. Diffusive effects are always present in the propagating fronts. We explore the effects of viscosity ratio, inclinations and other rheological properties on the front height and front velocity. Depending on the competition of viscosity, buoyancy and other rheological effects, it is possible to have single or multiple fronts. More efficient displacements are generally obtained with a more viscous displacing fluid and modest improvements may also be gained with slight positive inclination in the direction of the density difference. Fluids that are considerably shear-thinning may be displaced at high efficiencies by more viscous fluids. Generally, a yield stress in the displacing fluid increases the displacement efficiency and yield stress in the displaced fluid decreases the displacement efficiency, eventually leading to completely static residual wall layers of displaced fluid. The maximal layer thickness of these static layers can be directly computed from a one-dimensional momentum balance and indicates the thickness of static layer found at long times.

(Received December 31 2008)

(Revised May 25 2009)

(Accepted May 26 2009)

(Online publication October 16 2009)


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