Laminar drag reduction in surfactantcontaminated superhydrophobic channels

Samuel D. Tomlinson, Frédéric Gibou, Paolo Luzzatto-Fegiz, Fernando Temprano-Coleto, Oliver E. Jensen, Julien R. Landel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While superhydrophobic surfaces (SHSs) show promise for drag reduction applications, their performance can be compromised by traces of surfactant, which generate Marangoni stresses that increase drag. This question is addressed for soluble surfactant in a three-dimensional laminar channel flow, with periodic SHSs made of long finitelength longitudinal grooves located on both walls. We assume that bulk diffusion is sufficiently strong for cross-channel concentration gradients to be small. Exploiting long-wave theory and accounting for the difference between the rapid transverse and slower longitudinal Marangoni flows, we derive a one-dimensional model for surfactant transport from the full three-dimensional transport equations. Our one-dimensional model allows us to predict the drag reduction and surfactant distribution across the parameter space. The system exhibits multiple regimes, involving competition between Marangoni effects, bulk and interfacial diffusion, bulk and interfacial advection, shear dispersion and surfactant exchange between the bulk and the interface. We map out asymptotic regions in the high-dimensional parameter space, and derive explicit closedform approximations of the drag reduction, without any fitting or empirical parameters. The physics underpinning the drag reduction effect and the negative impact of surfactant is discussed through analysis of the velocity field and surfactant concentrations, which show both uniform and non-uniform stress distributions. Our theoretical predictions of the drag reduction compare well with results from the literature solving numerically the full three-dimensional transport problem. Our atlas of maps provides a comprehensive analytical guide for designing surfactant-contaminated channels with SHSs, to maximise the drag reduction in applications.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Issue numberA10
Early online date16 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 May 2023


  • Marangoni convection
  • drag reduction
  • microfluidics


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