Particle accumulation structures in a 5 cSt silicone oil liquid bridge: new data for the preparation of the JEREMI experiment

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Systems of solid particles in suspension driven by a time-periodic flow tend to create structures in the carrier fluid that are reminiscent of highly regular geometrical items. Within such a line of inquiry, the present study provides numerical results in support of the space experiments JEREMI (Japanese and European Research Experiment on Marangoni flow Instabilities) planned for execution onboard the International Space Station. The problem is tackled by solving the unsteady non-linear governing equations for the same conditions that will be established in space (microgravity, 5 cSt silicone oil and different aspect ratios of the liquid bridge). The results reveal that for a fixed supporting disk radius, the dynamics are deeply influenced by the height of the liquid column. In addition to its expected link with the critical threshold for the onset of instability (which makes Marangoni flow time-periodic), this geometrical parameter can have a significant impact on the emerging waveform and therefore the topology of particle structures. While for shallow liquid bridges, pulsating flows are the preferred mode of convection, for tall floating columns the dominant outcome is represented by rotating fluid-dynamic disturbance. In the former situation, particles self-organize in circular sectors bounded internally by regions of particle depletion, whereas in the latter case, particles are forced to accumulate in a spiral-like structure. The properties of some of these particle attractors have rarely been observed in earlier studies concerned with fluids characterized by smaller values of the Prandtl number.
Original languageEnglish
Article number31
Number of pages12
JournalMicrogravity Science and Technology
Issue number2
Early online date10 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Apr 2021


  • thermocapillary flow
  • liquid bridges
  • particle accumulation structures
  • microgravity


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