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Experiment and modelling of birefringent flows using commercial CFD code

By R.A. Tomlinson, D. Pugh and S.B.M. Beck


It is well-known that certain fluids are birefringent and when flows are viewed in polarised light interference fringes are observed. The fringes are caused by a phase shift in the light passing through the fluid and are proportional to the integral of the maximum shear strains in the fluid. In order to understand what is happening within the three dimensional flow and overcome the difficulties due to this integration, additional computational or experimental information is needed. In this work, a commercially available computer code (Fluent) is used for the first time to model the flows. The flow data are then exported to a spreadsheet where the shear rates are integrated across the field and then banded for graphical output. The results from this are then compared to results generated from birefringent flow experiments and the agreement is found to be good since the modelled fringes show the same patterns as those in the experiment. This novel use of computational and experimental techniques together will allow quantitative analysis of three-dimensional flows in the future. Currently, there are still a lot of empirical variables involved in fitting the computational fringes to the experiment, but the results of this preliminary study show that this is a promising approach to this type of problem

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2006
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