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# Modelling of bubble formation

M. C. Ekwonu
March 19, 2019

1
Contents
1 Introduction 3

2 Model development 3
2.1 Physical model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
2.2 Mathematical model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2.2.1 Drag force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2.2.2 Surface tension force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.2.3 shear-lift force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.2.4 Buoyant force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.2.5 Gas momentum force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2.2.6 Pressure force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2.2.7 Inertia force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2.2.8 Force balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

2
1 Introduction
The injection of gas into a liquid causes bubble formation play an important
role in many industrial applications, such as chemical plants, cooling sys-
tems, gas absorption units, air-lift reactors, metallurgic processing, fermen-
tation reactors, medical applications and waste water treatment (Capponi
and Llewellin 2019; Huang and Li 2017). In these applications, the bubble
size has a strong effect on the interfacial area and mass transport processes
between the gas and liquid phases (Huang and Li 2017).
Several techniques have been applied to generate micro-scale bubbles.
One of the ways used in industry is gas injection from an orifice into stagnant
liquids or flowing liquids (Huang and Li 2017). Increasing the velocity of
the flowing liquids significantly decreases bubble size and increases bubble
frequency.
Many researchers have investigated bubble formation in cross-flowing liq-
uids (Huang and Li 2017) and a number of theoretical models for investigat-
ing bubble formation during gas injection into liquid cross flow under specific
conditions have also been developed (Huang and Li 2017). R. Tan, Chen,
and K. Tan (2000) established a non-spherical model for bubble formation in
liquid crossflow. Nahra and Kamotani (2003) developed a two-dimensional
one-stage model based on a global force balance for bubble formation in a
cross-flowing liquid under low and normal gravity. Zhang and R. Tan (2003)
proposed a model to study bubble sizes, weeping rates, and weep points
resulting from gas injection through a submerged orifice. Loubière et al.
(2004) used this model combined with experimental methods to investigate
the effects of cross-flow on the bubble volume at a flexible orifice.

2 Model development
2.1 Physical model
The formation of microbubbles during horizontal injection of gas into flowing
liquid in vertical tubes is different from bubble formation in stagnant liquid
(Huang and Li 2017).
Therefore, Huang and Li (2017) proposed a new theoretical model based on
a global balance of force on the growing bubble and an appropriate bubble
detachment criterion. The following assumptions were made to arrive at the
analytical model: the bubble is generated independently without interaction
with other bubbles, the liquid flow is turbulent and is under normal gravity
condition, and the gas flow rate is constant.

3
Figure 1: The balance of the forces acting on a growing bubble in a vertical
tube

## Therefore, the bubble volume is defined as:

1 3
Vb = Qg t + πd (1)
12 o
where
Qg is the gas flow rate
do is the diameter of the vertical orifice
t is time
Vb is bubble volume

Hence the bubble diameter changes with time as given by Eq. (2)

s  
3 6 1 3
d(t) = Qg t + πdo (2)
π 12

## 2.2 Mathematical model

2.2.1 Drag force
The liquid flowing up or down the tube wall generates a drag force on the
growing bubble. The seventh-root law profile is an equation describing the
velocity profile for fully developed turbulent flow in a pipe, which is given by
Eq. (3) (Huang and Li 2017)

4
 1/7
x
uL = 1.235UL (3)
do /2
where
x is the distance from the wall
UL is the mean velocity of the vertical liquid.

The steady average liquid velocity across the growing bubble depends on
the instantaneous bubble size and can be calculated as:

x=2r
r1/7 d1/7
Z
1
ū = UL dx = 1.3173UL 1/7
= 1.1931UL 1/7
(4)
2r x=0 d0 d0
where ū is the steady average liquid velocity.
Drag force is related to the relative velocity between the liquid and the
growing bubble is given as:

π 2 ρL e
FD = d CD Uef f (5)
4 2
where Uef f is the relative velocity, ρL is the liquid density, d is the bubble
diameter and CD is the drag coefficient.
The bubble velocities in the x-direction and y-direction are dx/dt and dy/dt
respectively. Hence, the component of drag can be defined as:

 2
π ρL dx
FDx = d2 C D (6)
4 2 dt

 2
π ρL dy
FDy = d2 C D ū − (7)
4 2 dt
And the corresponding Reynolds numbers are:

ρL dx
dt
d
Reb,x = (8)
µL

ρL ū − dy

dt
d
Reb,y = (9)
µL

5
2.2.2 Surface tension force
The surface-tension force acts to keep the bubble attached to the injection
hole. This force increases when the bubble deforms. The x and y compo-
nents of the surface-tension force both point in the negative x−direction and
y−direction and can be given by (Loubière et al. 2004):

Z 3π/2
Fσx = 2 dO σsin[γ(ϕ)]dϕ (10)
π/2
Z 3π/2
Fσy = 2 dO σcos[γ(ϕ)]sin(ϕ)dϕ (11)
π/2

The relation between the longitudinal angle φ and the bubble interface
local inclination angle γ is expressed as:

## γ(ϕ) = (aϕ2 + bϕ + c)HU nitstep (ϕ − ϕo ) + βHU nitstep (ϕo − ϕ) (12)

where HU nitstep is the Heaviside unit step function; the constants a, b, and c
are derived from the values of the advancing contact angle α and the receding
contact angle β and ϕo is the onset of the quadratic transition from β to α.

## 2.2.3 shear-lift force

The drag force and the shear-lift force acting on the growing bubble represent
the forces induced by the stress tension on the bubble surface. The shear-lift

π 2 ρL ū2
FSL = d CL (13)
4 2
where CL is the shear-lift coefficient.

## 2.2.4 Buoyant force

The buoyancy force FB under normal gravity condition is defined as:

FB = Vb (ρL − ρg )g (14)

## where ρg is the density of the gas phase

6
2.2.5 Gas momentum force
The momentum flux force FM is calculated as shown in Eq. (15)

 2
4ρg dVb 4ρg 2
FM = 2 = Q (15)
πdo dt πd2o g

## 2.2.6 Pressure force

The pressure difference between the liquid pressure and the gas pressure at
the nozzle tip can cause an horizontal pressure force on the growing bub-
ble. The pressure difference across the gas-liquid boundary is based on the
Laplace-Young equation:

∆P = Pb − P = (16)
d
Therefore, the pressure force acting on the bubble control volume is given
as:

4σ πd2o πd2
Fp = × = ∆P o (17)
d 4 d

## 2.2.7 Inertia force

The x−component and y−component of inertia force are given as:

d2 x d2 x
   
dx dVb dx
FIx = CI ρL + Vb 2 = CI ρL Qg + Vb 2 (18)
dt dt dt dt dt
d2 y d2 y
       
dy dVb dy
FIy = CI ρL Vb 2 + − ū = CI ρL Vb 2 + − ū Qg
dt dt dt dt dt
(19)

## 2.2.8 Force balance

The force balance in the x−direction is given as:

## FP + FM + FSL = Fσx + FIx + FDx (20)

7
Due to different flow direction, the force balance equation in the y−direction
is different from that in the x−direction. The upward-flowing liquid, the force
balance in the y−coordinate is expressed as Eq. (21). For downward-flowing
liquid, the force balance in the y =coordinate is expressed as Eq. (22).

## FB + FDy = Fσy + FIy (21)

FDy = Fσy + FIy + FB (22)

The related force balance expression can be inserted into the force balance
equations. Eqs. (20) and (21) or Eqs. (20) and (22) are solved simultaneously
using the fourth-order Runge Kutta method with the initial conditions:
dx dy
t = 0, = x = 0, =y=0
dt dt

References
Capponi, Antonio and Edward W. Llewellin (2019). “Experimental observa-
tions of bubbling regimes at in-line multi-orifice bubblers”. In: Interna-
tional Journal of Multiphase Flow 114, pp. 66–81.
Huang, Qian and Changjun Li (2017). “A theoretical model for bubble for-
mation during horizontal gas injection into liquid flow in vertical tubes”.
In: Journal of Dispersion Science and Technology 39.10, pp. 1435–1441.
Loubière, Karine et al. (2004). “Bubble formation at a flexible orifice with
liquid cross-flow”. In: Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process In-
tensification 43.6, pp. 717–725.
Nahra, Henry K. and Y. Kamotani (2003). “Prediction of bubble diameter at
detachment from a wall orifice in liquid cross-flow under reduced and nor-
mal gravity conditions”. In: Chemical Engineering Science 58.1, pp. 55–
69.
Tan, R.B.H, W. B Chen, and K.H Tan (2000). “A non-spherical model for
bubble formation with liquid cross-flow”. In: Chemical Engineering Sci-
ence 55.24, pp. 6259–6267.
Zhang, Wenxing and R.B.H Tan (2003). “A model for bubble formation
and weeping at a submerged orifice with liquid cross-flow”. In: Chemical
Engineering Science 58.2, pp. 287–295.

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