Enhancement of Liquids Mixing Using Active Pulsation in the Laminar Flow Regime

  • Qingfeng Xia

Student thesis: Phd


Both the need for mixing highly viscous liquids more effectively and the advance of micro-scale applications urge the development of technologies for liquid mixing at low Reynolds numbers. However, currently engineering designs which offer effective jet mixing without structural and operational complexity are still lacking. In this project, the method of enhancing liquid mixing using active pulsation in the laminar flow regime is explored experimentally. This work started by improving the inline pulsation mechanism in an existing confined jet configuration whereby the fluid from a primary planar jet and two surrounding secondary planar jets are pulsated by active fluid injection control via solenoid valves in the out-of-phase mode. The influence of Reynolds number, pulsation modes, frequency, duty cycle on mixing is then investigated using PLIF and PIV experimental techniques. A combination of different mixing mechanisms is found to be at play, including sequential segmentation, shearing and stretching, vortex entrainment and breakup. At a given net flow Reynolds number, an optimal frequency exists which scales approximately with a Strouhal number (Str=fh/Uj) about 1. This optimal frequency reflects the compromise of the vorticity strength and segmentation length. Furthermore, a lower duty cycle is found to produce a better mixing due to a resultant higher instantaneous Reynolds number in the jet flow. Overall, the improvement of the rig has resulted in an excellent mixing being achieved at a net flow Reynolds number of 166 which is at least order of magnitude lower than in the original rig.In order to achieve fast laminar mixing at even lower Reynolds numbers, the active pulsation mechanism using lateral synthetic jet pairs is designed and tested at a net flow Reynolds number ranging from 2 to 166 at which a good mixing is achieved. The influence of actuation frequency and amplitude, and different jet configuration is evaluated using PLIF and PIV experimental techniques. At the mediate to high Reynolds numbers tested in this study, the interaction and subsequent breakup of vortices play a dominant role in provoking mixing. In contrast, at the lower end of Reynolds numbers the strength of vortex rollup is weakened significantly and as a result folding and shearing of sequential segments provide the main mechanism for mixing. Therefore it is essential to use multiple lateral synthetic jet pairs to achieve good mixing in both mixing channel and synthetic jet cavity at this Reynolds number. It is found that an increase in both the actuation magnitude and frequency improves mixing, thereby the velocity ratio represents the relative strength of the pulsation velocity to the mean flow velocity is crucial for mixing enhancement. In order to identify actuation conditions for good mixing, a regression fit is conducted for the correlation between the dimensionless parameters, net flow Reynolds number Ren, stroke length L and Strouhal number Str. Over the tested range of the net flow Reynolds number from 2 to 83, the relationship of parameters is found and the velocity ratio at least above 2.0. Suggested by the comparatively small exponent, net flow Reynolds number is less influential than stroke length and Strouhal number.The success in obtaining excellent mixing using lateral synthetic jet pairs at low Reynolds numbers in the present work has opened up a promising prospect of their applications in various scenarios, including mixing of highly viscous liquids at macro-scale and micro-mixing.
Date of Award1 Aug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorShan Zhong (Supervisor)


  • Jet mixing
  • Synthetic jet
  • Low Reynolds numbers

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