Bubble Deformation by a Turbulent Flow


We investigate the modes of deformation of an initially spherical bubble immersed in a homogeneous and isotropic turbulent background flow. We perform direct numerical simulations of the two-phase incompressible Navier-Stokes equations, considering a low-density bubble in the high-density turbulent flow at various Weber numbers (the ratio of turbulent and surface tension forces) using the air-water density ratio. We discuss a theoretical framework for the bubble deformation in a turbulent flow using a spherical harmonic decomposition. We propose, for each mode of bubble deformation, a forcing term given by the statistics of velocity and pressure fluctuations, evaluated on a sphere of the same radius. This approach formally relates the bubble deformation and the background turbulent velocity fluctuations, in the limit of small deformations. The growth of the total surface deformation and of each individual mode is computed from the direct numerical simulations using an appropriate Voronoi decomposition of the bubble surface. We show that two successive temporal regimes occur: the first regime corresponds to deformations driven only by inertial forces, with the interface deformation growing linearly in time, in agreement with the model predictions, whereas the second regime results from a balance between inertial forces and surface tension. The transition time between the two regimes is given by the period of the first Rayleigh mode of bubble oscillation. We discuss how our approach can be used to relate the bubble lifetime to the turbulence statistics and eventually show that at high Weber numbers, bubble lifetime can be deduced from the statistics of turbulent fluctuations at the bubble scale.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


National Science Foundation, Grant 1548562

Keywords and Phrases

bubble dynamics; multiphase flow

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0022-1120; 1469-7645

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





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Publication Date

10 Aug 2021