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The mathematics of foam

By C. J. W. Breward

Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to derive and solve mathematical models for the flow of liquid in a foam. A primary concern is to investigate how so-called `Marangoni stresses' (i.e. surface tension gradients), generated for example by the presence of a surfactant, act to stabilise a foam. We aim to provide the key microscopic components for future foam modelling. We begin by describing in detail the influence of surface tension gradients on a general liquid flow, and various physical mechanisms which can give rise to such gradients. We apply the models thus devised to an experimental configuration designed to investigate Marangoni effects. Next we turn our attention to the flow in the thin liquid films (`lamellae') which make up a foam. Our methodology is to simplify the field equations (e.g. the Navier-Stokes equations for the liquid) and free surface conditions using systematic asymptotic methods. The models so derived explain the `stiffening' effect of surfactants at free surfaces, which extends considerably the lifetime of a foam. Finally, we look at the macroscopic behaviour of foam using an ad-hoc averaging of the thin film models

Topics: Partial differential equations, Fluid mechanics, Numerical analysis
Year: 1999
OAI identifier: oai:generic.eprints.org:34/core69

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