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Drag and thrust effects of Viscoelastic fluids Goyal, Gaurav


Viscoelastic fluids are non-Newtonian fluids exhibiting both viscous and elastic properties. Many fluids of practical importance (polymers, surfactants, mucus, shampoos etc.) display viscoelastic effects to different degrees under a wide range of flow conditions and thus, these fluids present a variety of problems. In this work, we study two problems at very different flow conditions in viscoelastic fluids: a) the effect of swimming gait on bio-locomotion and b) characterizing the drag reducing fluids used for gravel-packing operations in the petroleum industry. For the first problem, we give formulas for the swimming of simplified two-dimensional bodies at low Reynolds numbers in complex fluids using the reciprocal theorem. By way of these formulas, we calculate the swimming velocity due to small-amplitude deformations on the simplest of these bodies, a two-dimensional sheet, to explore general conditions on the swimming gait under which the sheet may move faster, or slower, in a viscoelastic fluid compared to a Newtonian fluid. We show that in general, for small amplitude deformations, a speed increase can only be realized by multiple deformation modes in contrast to slip flows. Additionally, we show that a change in swimming speed is directly due to a change in thrust generated by the swimmer. Later, we work with viscoelastic additives (xanthan and a zwitterionic viscoelastic surfactant, VES), widely used as drag reducers for gravel-packing applications. While the behavior of xanthan is well characterized in the literature, much less is known about the VES characteristics, despite widespread use. We performed a number of rheological tests and flow-loop experiments on VES solutions to understand the structural characteristics to make better process predictions. Unlike xanthan, which displays typical viscoelastic liquid characteristics, VES displays elastic gel-like behaviour. The gel-like behaviour suggests long and relatively unbreakable chain lengths of the wormlike micelles in the VES at room temperature leading to gelation by entanglement. Also, a shear-thickening behaviour of VES samples at higher shear rates is observed, possibly as a result of shear-induced structures. Finally, we present a novel representation scheme to depict the flow-loop results relating the rheological characterization while observing drag reduction.

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