Modelling finger propagation in elasto-rigid channels

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We conduct a theoretical study of a two-phase-fluid-structure interaction problem in which air is driven at constant volume flux into a liquid-filled Hele-Shaw channel whose upper boundary is an elastic sheet. A depth-averaged model in the frame of reference of the advancing air-liquid interface is used to investigate the steady and unsteady interface propagation modes via numerical simulation. In slightly collapsed channels, the steadily-propagating interface adopts a shape that is similar to the classic Saman{ Taylor finger in rigid Hele-Shaw cells. As the level of initial collapse increases the induced gradients in channel depth alter the morphology of the propagating finger and promote a variety of instabilities from tip-splitting to small-scale fingering on the curved interface, in qualitative agreement with experiments. The model has a complex solution structure with a wide range of stable and unstable, steady and time-periodic modes, many of which have similar driving pressures. We find good quantitative agreement between our model and the experimental data of Ducloue et al. (J. Fluid Mech. vol. 819, 2017, p 121) for the finger width, sheet profile and finger pressure, provided that corrections to account for the presence of liquid films on the upper and lower walls of the channel are included in the model.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Feb 2021