Laminar mixing by the inline-mixing principle is key to many industrial fluids-engineering systems of size extending from microns to meters. However, insight into fundamental transport phenomena particularly under the realistic conditions of three-dimensionality (3D) and fluid inertia remains limited. This study addresses these issues for inline mixers with cylindrical geometries and adopts the Rotated Arc Mixer (RAM) as a representative system. Transport is investigated from a Lagrangian perspective by identifying and examining coherent structures that form in the 3D streamline portrait. 3D effects and fluid inertia introduce three key features that are not found in simplified configurations: transition zones between consecutive mixing cells of the inline-mixing flow; local upstream flow (in certain parameter regimes); transition/inertia-induced breaking of symmetries in the Lagrangian equations of motion (causing topological changes in coherent structures). Topological considerations strongly suggest that there nonetheless always exists a net throughflow region between inlet and outlet of the inline-mixing flow that is strictly separated from possible internal regions. The Lagrangian dynamics in this region admits representation by a 2D time-periodic Hamiltonian system. This establishes one fundamental kinematic structure for the present class of inline-mixing flows and implies universal behavior in that all states follow from the Hamiltonian breakdown of one common integrable state. A so-called period-doubling bifurcation is the only way to eliminate transport barriers originating from this state and thus is a necessary (yet not sufficient) condition for global chaos. Important in a practical context is that a common simplification in literature, i.e. cell-wise fully-developed Stokes flow ("2.5D approach"), retains these fundamental kinematic properties and deviates from the generic 3D inertial case only in a quantitative sense. This substantiates its suitability for (at least first exploratory) studies on (qualitative) mixing properties.
Speetjens, M. F. M., Demissie, E. A., Metcalfe, G., & Clercx, H. J. H. (2014). Lagrangian transport characteristics of a class of three-dimensional inline-mixing flows with fluid inertia. Physics of Fluids, 26(11), 113601-1/24. . https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4901822