A Photographic Investigation into the Disintegration of Liquid Sheets

N. Dombrowski, R. P. Fraser


The types of apparatus used to produce liquid sheets are classified according to the manner in which the energy is imparted to the liquid. The factors influencing the development, stability and manner of disintegration of a liquid sheet are examined more particularly with flat sheets produced from the single-hole fan-spray nozzle and the spinning disk. The development of the liquid sheet is influenced by the liquid properties. As the working pressure is raised the width of the sheet increases, but this development is hindered by high surface tension. It is shown that the effect of a surface-active agent on the development is only influential where the surface is not expanding or changing rapidly. Consequently its effect is more pronounced as the liquid moves farther away from the orifice. Increase of viscosity at the same pressure causes the region of disintegration to move away from the orifice, and high viscosity maintains the sheet undisturbed by air friction. Density has little effect on the area of the sheet. The effect of turbulence in the orifice is shown to be responsible for at least two types of disturbance in the sheet which results in holes being formed near the orifice. The depth of the disturbance in the sheet has to be equal to the thickness before disruption occurs. Similar disruption through the formation of holes can be caused by suspensions of unwettable particles. Wettable particles in low concentration, irrespective of their size, have no effect on the manner of disintegration. The most placid, stable and resistant sheet is obtained with a liquid of high surface tension, high viscosity, low density, giving low turbulence in the nozzle. Such a sheet will disintegrate when the velocity is raised and disintegration can occur through air friction. The easiest sheet to disintegrate is obtained with a liquid of low surface tension, low viscosity, low density and with low turbulence in the nozzle. Disintegration will occur near the nozzle at low velocities through waves caused by air friction. Disintegration through the formation of holes in the sheet can occur at low velocity with liquids of high surface tension, low viscosity and high density where turbulence obtains in the nozzle. The formation of ligaments or threads is a necessary stage before the production of drops. Threads can be formed directly from any free edge or in the boundary. A free edge is formed when equilibrium exists between surface tension and inertia forces. In the spinning disk, at low flow rates, where the sheet is in contact with the surface of the disk, drops are formed at the ends of threads which break down into a limited number of sizes. At high flow rates a free edge of liquid exists outside the periphery of the disk with the formation of more irregular threads and a wider spectrum of drop sizes results. Where performations occur in the sheet, expansion of the hole by surface tension occurs very regularly so that the holes remain nearly circular until they coalesce forming long threads. These long threads quickly become unstable and break down into drops. Threads being approximately uniform in diameter produce uniform drops, but the irregular areas of liquid which occur when a number of holes expand towards each other produce a wide variety of drop sizes. When the velocity of the sheet in the atmosphere is high, air friction causes slight variations in the sheet to develop rapidly into major wave disturbances, and these can result in holes being blown through the sheet so that disruption starts before the formation of a leading edge. With liquids having visco-elastic properties the sheet disintegrates through the formation of waves, but the rapid increase of viscosity, as the rate of shear is reduced, prevents further break-up of the threads into drops and a web of fine threads only is produced.

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