Experiments in Fluids

, 60:145 | Cite as

Instabilities in micro-contraction flows of semi-dilute CTAB and CPyCl solutions: rheology and flow instabilities

  • R. M. Matos
  • M. A. Alves
  • F. T. PinhoEmail author
Research Article


The flows of two semi-dilute surfactant solutions (CTAB and CPyCl) through several micro contractions/expansions are experimentally investigated, following an extensive rheological characterization in both shear and extensional flows. The shear rheology of the solutions shows strong shear thinning and shear banding, whereas Small Amplitude Oscillatory Shear and Capillary Break-up Extensional Rheometry indicate that they have high shear and extensional elasticities. Flow visualizations and micro-particle image velocimetry measurements show that the surfactant solutions exhibit three established types of flow patterns in contraction flows: Newtonian-like, asymmetric and disordered. Newtonian-like flow occurs at low flow rates and is preceded by a long transient flow in experiments starting from rest, which seems to be related to shear banding and the alignment of wormlike micelles. The asymmetric flow regime occurs at moderate flow rates and is characterized by an asymmetric upstream central jet with two adjacent vortices, features that change non-periodically, but slowly, in time. This flow pattern seems to be related with the high elasticity of the semi-dilute solutions. The disordered flow pattern is similar to the asymmetric flow in terms of broad characteristics, but the flow asymmetry changes with time much faster than in the asymmetric flow regime, resembling a chaotic-like flow. The disordered flow seems to be related with the breakdown of micellar structures. We concluded also that the flows in both the asymmetric and disordered flow regimes are globally stable in terms of flow patterns, but locally unstable in terms of flow characteristics, with power spectra of the velocity fluctuations having slopes that differ from those typically encountered in elastic turbulence.

Graphic abstract



All authors acknowledge funding by Centro de Estudos de Fenómenos de Transporte (CEFT) and Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) via projects UID/EMS/00532/2013 and UID/EMS/00532/2019. R. Matos is also indebted to FCT for the PhD scholarship SFRH/BD/86029/2012.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEFT, Departamento de Engenharia Mecânica, Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.CEFT, Departamento de Engenharia Química, Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.ENC EnergyCanelasPortugal

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