Signature of elastic turbulence of viscoelastic fluid flow in a single pore throat

Eseosa M. Ekanem, Steffen Berg, Shauvik De, Ali Fadili, Tom Bultreys, Maja Rücker, Jeffrey Southwick, John Crawshaw, Paul F. Luckham (Corresponding author)

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1 Citation (Scopus)


When a viscoelastic fluid, such as an aqueous polymer solution, flows through a porous medium, the fluid undergoes a repetitive expansion and contraction as it passes from one pore to the next. Above a critical flow rate, the interaction between the viscoelastic nature of the polymer and the pore configuration results in spatial and temporal flow instabilities reminiscent of turbulentlike behavior, even though the Reynolds number Reâ‰1. To investigate whether this is caused by many repeated pore body-pore throat sequences, or simply a consequence of the converging (diverging) nature present in a single pore throat, we performed experiments using anionic hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) in a microfluidic flow geometry representing a single pore throat. This allows the viscoelastic fluid to be characterized at increasing flow rates using microparticle image velocimetry in combination with pressure drop measurements. The key finding is that the effect, popularly known as "elastic turbulence," occurs already in a single pore throat geometry. The critical Deborah number at which the transition in rheological flow behavior from pseudoplastic (shear thinning) to dilatant (shear thickening) strongly depends on the ionic strength, the type of cation in the anionic HPAM solution, and the nature of pore configuration. The transition towards the elastic turbulence regime was found to directly correlate with an increase in normal stresses. The topology parameter, Qf, computed from the velocity distribution, suggests that the "shear thickening" regime, where much of the elastic turbulence occurs in a single pore throat, is a consequence of viscoelastic normal stresses that cause a complex flow field. This flow field consists of extensional, shear, and rotational features around the constriction, as well as upstream and downstream of the constriction. Furthermore, this elastic turbulence regime, has high-pressure fluctuations, with a power-law decay exponent of up to -2.1 which is higher than the Kolmogorov value for turbulence of -5/3.

Original languageEnglish
Article number042605
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

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