(379i) Water Slug Formation and Motion in Gas Flow Channels

Benziger, J., Princeton University
Kevrekidis, I. G., Princeton University

Water emerging from 100 micron pores into mm size gas flow channels forms drops that grow and become slugs which span the flow channel.  Flowing gas causes the slugs to detach and move down the channel.  The effect of channel geometry, surface wettability and gravity on the formation and motion of water slugs has been analyzed using high-speed video images of the drops and differential pressure-time traces.  Drops grow assuming a sequence of shapes that minimize the total interfacial energy of the gas/liquid and liquid/solid interfaces.  The drops are initially spherical caps centered on the pore (liquid contacts one wall).  Above a certain size the drops move to the corner, forming “corner drops” (liquid contact two walls).  Corner drops grow across the channel, evolving into partial liquid bridges (drops confined by three walls) and finally the drops span the channel cross-section forming slugs (contacting all four walls).  Smaller slugs are formed in channels with hydrophobic walls than in channels with hydrophilic walls.  Smaller slugs are formed in channels with curved walls than in square or rectangular channels.  Slugs move when the differential gas pressure overcomes the force to move the advancing and receding gas/liquid/solid contact lines of the slugs.  Residual water left behind in corners by moving slugs reduces the barriers for drops to form slugs, causing the steady state slug volumes to be smaller than those seen at start-up in dry channels.