MAPEX Research Highlights

Memoryless drop breakup in turbulence

Alberto Vela-Martin  AND Marc Avila

Science Advances 8 (2022)

doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abp9561

The breakup of drops and bubbles in turbulent fluids is a key mechanism in many environmental and engineering processes. Even in the well-studied dilute case, quantitative descriptions of drop fragmentation remain elusive, and empirical models continue to proliferate. We here investigate drop breakup by leveraging a novel computer code, which enables the generation of ensembles of experiments with thousands of independent, fully resolved simulations. We show that in homogeneous isotropic turbulence breakup is a memoryless process whose rate depends only on the Weber number. A simple model based on the computed breakup rates can accurately predict experimental measurements and demonstrates that dilute emulsions evolve through a continuous fragmentation process with exponentially increasing time scales. Our results suggest a nonvanishing breakup rate below the critical Kolmogorov-Hinze diameter, challenging the current paradigm of inertial drop fragmentation.

© 2022 The Authors.

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