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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Experiments on turbulent flows of elasto-viscoplastic fluids Mitishita, Rodrigo Seiji


In this thesis, we present an experimental investigation of turbulent flows of elasto-viscoplastic fluids. The motivation comes from the oil and gas industry, where turbulent flows of non-Newtonian fluids are frequently encountered. We characterize the turbulent flow of viscoplastic fluids, both under a fully turbulent flow and also when it is displaced by another fluid under turbulence in an eccentric annular geometry. Further, we investigate the fully turbulent flow of a drag reducing, elasto-viscoplastic wormlike micellar (or surfactant) solution, and compare those results to better known polymer solutions under turbulent flows. Our experiments in fully turbulent flows of viscoplastic Carbopol solutions show an enhancement of streamwise velocity fluctuations and a decrease in wall normal velocity fluctuations in comparison to water. As we increase the Reynolds numbers, the turbulence statistics approach Newtonian values. With regards to turbulent displacements of 0.15% Carbopol solutions in an eccentric annulus, we observe that the displacement is successful without the obstruction regardless of the displacing fluid. The obstruction at eccentricity e ≈ 0.5 is mostly detrimental to removal of the yield stress fluid stuck downstream of it. At high eccentricity values of e ≈ 0.7, the effect of the obstruction on the displacement of Carbopol is seen to be negligible. When wormlike micellar gels are submitted to a turbulent flow, the micellar structure near the wall appears to be mostly broken down during turbulent flow. Turbulent flows at low concentrations of surfactant show a Newtonian-like flow field throughout most of the duct, where the energy spectra shows a -5/3 power law scale with wavenumber. Conversely, energy spectra of the micellar solutions at large percentages of drag reduction show approximately a -3 power law decay. Moreover, a direct comparison of turbulent flows with flexible and rigid polymer solutions also shows similar turbulence statistics at approximately the same percentages of drag reduction. A -3 power law decay in the energy spectra is also observed with both flexible and rigid polymer solutions, and we hypothesize it may be a consequence of elasto-inertial turbulence.

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