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in Homogeneous Turbulence
D. QIAN AND J. B. MCLAUGHLIN
Department of Chemical Engineering, Clarkson University,
Potsdam, New York
K. SANKARANARAYANAN AND S. SUNDARESAN
Department of Chemical Engineering, Princeton University,
Princeton, New Jersey
DuPont Central Research and Development, Wilmington, Delawore
This article presents numerical simulation results for the deformation and breakup
of bubbles in homogeneous turbulence under zero gravity conditions. The lattice
Boltzmann method was used in the simulations. Homogeneous turbulence was
generated by a random stirring force that acted on the fluid in a three-dimensional
periodic box. The grid size was sufficiently small that the smallest scales of motion
could be simulated for the underlying bubble-free flow. The minimum Weber number
for bubble breakup was found to be about 3. Bubble breakup was stochastic, and the
average time needed for breakup was much larger for small Weber numbers than for
larger Weber numbers. For small Weber numbers, breakup was preceded by a long
period of oscillatory behavior during which the largest linear dimension of the bubble
gradually increased. For all Weber numbers, breakup was preceded by a sudden
increase in the largest linear dimension of the bubble. When the Weber number
exceeded the minimum value, the average surface area increased by as much as 80%.
Keywords Bubble breakup; Multiphase flow; Numerical simulation; Turbulence
Gas-liquid turbulent flows occur in industrial systems such as stirred tank biochemi-
cal reactors and bubble columns. In these flows, the deformation and breakup of
bubbles strongly affect the interfacial area, which, in turn, affects the rates of heat,
mass, and momentum transfer. It is, therefore, of interest to determine the conditions
that lead to bubble deformation and breakup.
Kolmogorov (1949) and Hinze (1955) developed a theory for bubble or drop
breakup in turbulent flows. They suggested that a bubble breaks as a result of inter-
actions with turbulent eddies that are of approximately the same size as the bubble.
They assumed that the bubble size was in the inertial sub-range of turbulence length
scales so that Kolmogorov’s universal energy spectrum could be used to estimate the
Address correspondence to J. B. McLaughlin, Department of Chemical Engineering,
Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY 13699. E-mail: email@example.com
Chem. Eng. Comm., 193:1038–1063, 2006
Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0098-6445 print/1563-5201 online
strength of eddies having sizes comparable to the bubble. Hinze formulated a
criterion for breakup based on a force balance. He pointed out that, in sufficiently
strong turbulence, a bubble would deform and break when the surface tension
was unable to balance the random pressure fluctuations that cause deformation.
He defined a Weber number, We ¼ q
=c, where q
is the liquid density,
is the equivalent spherical diameter of the bubble, c is the surface tension, and
(d)i is the mean-square longitudinal velocity difference of the undisturbed flow
over a distance d. He proposed that, when the Weber number exceeded a critical
, the bubble would break. Based on the experimental results of Clay
(1940a, b) for emulsions of drops, Hinze estimated that the critical Weber number
for drop breakup was We
Levich (1962) developed a criterion for bubble breakup that is similar to that of
Kolmogorov and Hinze except that the density of the bubble as well as the liquid
appears in the criterion. Shinnar (1961) used Taylor’s (1932, 1934) analysis of break-
up due to viscous stresses to develop a criterion for bubble breakup based on the
assumption that the bubble sizes are on the order of the Kolmogorov scale or smal-
ler. Finally, Baldyga and Bourne (1995) generalized the above results to account for
turbulent intermittency using a multifractal approach. The multifractal method
accounts for the (often large) deviations of the local energy dissipation rate from
the mean value.
Following Kolmogorov and Hinze, many investigators have studied bubble
or drop size distributions in turbulent flows theoretically and experimentally
(Coulaloglou and Tavlarides, 1977; Walter and Blanch, 1986; Prince andBlanch, 1990;
Bouaifi and Roustan, 1998). Although most researchers used the Kolmogorov-Hinze
theory, many formulas were proposed to predict the maximum stable bubble or drop
size, and a wide range of critical Weber numbers was obtained based on different
assumptions and experiments. Senhaji (1993) suggested that the critical Weber num-
ber was about 0.25 based on experimental studies on air bubbles in a uniform turbu-
lent downflow under normal gravity conditions.
The experiments of Sevik and Park (1973) and Risso and Fabre (1998) are parti-
cularly relevant to the present study. Sevik and Park (1973) predicted a critical
Weber number equal to 2.6 by observing the splitting of air bubbles penetrating a
water jet. They performed experiments with bubbles in the size range 4.0 to
5.8 mm. Although there are some apparent typographical errors in the article, it
appears that the Taylor microscale Reynolds number of their turbulent flow was
), which is an order of magnitude larger than that to be considered in the
present study. They postulated a resonance mechanism involving a bubble dynamics
and turbulent fluctuations in addition to the force balance. According to their cri-
terion, the threshold Weber number for breakup is determined by the condition that
two characteristic frequencies are equal. One of these frequencies is that of the n ¼ 2
mode of bubble oscillation (Lamb, 1932). The other frequency is the characteristic
frequency of turbulence fluctuations for eddies that are of the same size as the bub-
ble. Since the oscillation frequency of a bubble or drop depends on the density ratio
of the two phases, one might expect to observe a significant difference between the
critical Weber numbers for drops and bubbles. Hinze’s (1955) analysis of Clay’s
(1940a, b) data for emulsions of drops indicates that the critical Weber number is
approximately 1.18. However, Sevik and Park obtained a critical Weber equal to
2.6 from their experiments. Their resonance criterion is consistent with this discrep-
ancy in the critical Weber numbers for the two sets of experiments.
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1039
Risso and Fabre (1998) obtained values of the critical Weber number between
2.7 and 7.8 from experimental data obtained under microgravity conditions. They
performed experiments with two sets of bubbles: type A bubbles ranged in size from
2 to 6 mm, and type B bubbles ranged in size from 12.4 to 21.4 mm. Breakup was
observed only for type B bubbles, but only about 50%of type B bubbles broke; this
points to a stochastic mechanism of breakup. Risso and Fabre did not provide a
Taylor microscale Reynolds numbers for their turbulence, which was weakly inho-
mogeneous. They identified two bubble breakup mechanisms: force imbalance and
resonance oscillation. In weak turbulence, a bubble breaks through a resonance
phenomenon in which the n ¼ 2 bubble oscillation mode is dominant. The n ¼ 2
mode of oscillation is a degenerate mode that consists of an axisymmetric mode
and two non-axisymmetric modes (see, for example, Risso (2000) or Longuet-
Higgins (1989)) in which the bubble volume is conserved. The frequencies and damp-
ing constants of the oscillation modes may be found in Lamb (1932). A theoretical
treatment of resonant bubble oscillations in time-periodic straining flows may be
found in Kang and Leal (1990); their article incorporates nonlinear effects. However,
Risso and Fabre found that. When the turbulence is sufficiently strong, the reson-
ance mode is bypassed and the bubble breaks up abruptly.
In the present article, the results of simulations of deformation and breakup of
bubbles in homogeneous turbulence under zero gravity conditions are discussed. One
goal of the work was to determine the feasibility of using the lattice Boltzmann
method (LBM) to simulate bubble breakup in turbulence. The other goal of the
simulations was to understand the breakup mechanism. The Reynolds numbers of
the simulations, based on the spatial period and the turbulent intensity, were too
small for the existence of an inertial sub-range. However, the Reynolds number
based on the equivalent spherical bubble diameter and the turbulent intensity
was typically O(10
), so inertial effects were important. Thus, Shinnar’s theory
was inapplicable since it is based on Stokes flow.
There is a large literature on the breakup of bubbles and drops in various flows.
The reader is referred to the article by Risso (2000) for a more comprehensive reviewof
the subject than can be attempted here. It is useful to briefly discuss studies dealing
with the numerical simulation of bubble or drop deformation or breakup in high
Reynolds number flows. Ryskin and Leal (1984a, b) used an adaptive grid finite dif-
ference method to simulate the deformation of steadily rising axisymmetric bubbles.
Dandy and Leal (1989) extended the Ryskin-Leal method to study the motion and
deformation of axisymmetric droplets. Kang and Leal (1987) used the Ryskin-Leal
method to study the deformation and breakup of bubbles in an axisymmetric flow;
they did not include buoyancy in their study. Their work is particularly relevant to
the present study since they demonstrated a Reynolds number dependence of the criti-
cal Weber number, and they also showed that the critical Weber number depended on
the history of the bubble. For example, in some simulations, they subjected a bubble to
a supercritical strain rate for a short period of time. When the strain rate was reduced
to a ‘‘subcritical’’ value (as determined in simulations for which the initial bubble
shape was spherical and the bubble was subjected to a single strain rate), they found
that bubble broke if the strain rate was sufficiently close to the critical value. Similar
behavior will be discussed in the present article in the context of turbulent flow.
Han and Tryggvason (1999) presented simulations of the secondary breakup of
axisymmetric drops that are accelerated by a constant body force. They used the
front tracking finite difference method (Unverdi and Tryggvason, 1992) to perform
1040 D. Qian et al.
the simulations. Their article also includes references to several studies on the break-
up of drops using the volume of fluid method. Han and Tryggvason’s work differs
from that and reported in the present article in several respects: the unsteadiness
near their drops arose from the droplet motion rather than an external stirring
force; they considered axisymmetric motion, while the present study considers
non-axisymmetric deformation; and the driving force for deformation in their case
was buoyancy, while the present study considers gravity-free conditions.
Sankaranarayanan et al. (1999) used the LBM to study the velocity and defor-
mation of freely rising bubbles in periodic arrays. Sankaranarayanan et al. (2002)
extended the above work to smaller Morton numbers by developing an ‘‘implicit’’
formulation of the LBM that is more stable at small viscosities than the conventional
‘‘explicit’’ formulation. The work discussed in the present article uses the explicit or
LBM method since zero gravity conditions were considered and the conventional
method was found to be adequate. A recent article by Sankaranarayanan et al.
(2003) provides validation tests of the LBM against the front tracking finite differ-
ence method. A primary difference between this work and that discussed in the
above articles is that the present study deals with the effects of externally forced
homogeneous turbulence on bubble breakup.
The simulations in this article were performed with the LBM. The LBMis discussed in
the books by Rothman and Zaleski (1997) and Succi (2001) and in the article by Chen
and Doolen (1998). In this approach, one obtains approximate solutions of the
Navier-Stokes equation by solving a kinetic equation for the probability distribution
functions of an artificial lattice gas. The Chapman-Enskog procedure (Chapman and
Cowling, 1961) may be used to show that the velocity and pressure fields obtained
from the LBM are approximate solutions of the Navier-Stokes equation, provided
they vary slowly in space and time. The LBMhas the advantage that it is relatively easy
to develop programs for multiphase flows and flows in complex geometries. The LBM
is also well suited to parallel computations since the information transfer is local in
time and space. Perhaps the greatest advantage of the method is that, for a given com-
putational domain, the computational work is independent of the number of bubbles.
In the LBM, it is convenient to work with quantities that are made dimension-
less in terms of the time step and grid spacing. Thus, the dimensionless time step is
unity and the speed of sound for the lattice gas is O(1). To avoid significant com-
pressibility effects, the simulations to be reported were performed in parameter
regimes for which the typical fluid velocities were small compared to unity.
Simulations were performed for both single component fluids and two-
component fluids. In what follows, the LBM will be described for each of these situa-
tions. In both cases, an exhaustive discussion of the methodology will not be
attempted. Instead, the main features of the techniques that were used in the simula-
tions will be presented. More detailed discussions may be found in the above refer-
ences and a dissertation by Qian (2003).
LBM for a Single-Component, Single-Phase Flow
The LBM originated from the method of lattice gas automata (LGA), proposed by
Frisch et al. (1986). Rothman and Zaleski (1997) discussed the LGA and its limitations.
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1041
Qian et al. (1992) suggested the LBMas a more efficient way of performing simulations.
He and Luo (1997) and Shan and He (1998) pointed out that the LBM may be viewed
as a discrete version of the continuum Boltzmann equation.
In the LBM, the computational domain is represented by a lattice of nodes on
which a set of particle probability distribution functions, f
, are computed. Each par-
ticle distribution function is associated with a specific lattice velocity, e
. The simula-
tions reported were performed on a velocity cubic lattice. One of the lattice velocities
was zero. The other velocities were chosen such that, in one time step, a particle
traveled to one of its nearest lattice nodes.
In the LBM a time step involves two sub-steps:
ðx; t þ1Þ ¼ f
ðx; tÞ þX
ðx; tÞ ð1Þ
; t þ1Þ ¼ f
ðx; t þ1Þ ð2Þ
is the particle distribution function, X
is the collision term, x and t are the
position vector and time, and the index c denotes collision. The index i varies from
0 to 14. The collision term satisfies conservation of mass and momentum:
ðx; tÞ ¼ 0 ð3Þ
ðx; tÞ ¼ Fðx; tÞ ð4Þ
where Fðx; tÞ is the force acting on the lattice site x at time t. Macroscopic fluid
properties, such as the number density, q, and velocity, u, may be computed from
the following equations:
; qu ¼
The simulations were performed with the Bhatnagar-Gross-Krook (BGK) form for
the collision term:
ðx; tÞ Àf
is the equilibrium particle distribution function and s is a relaxation time.
The 15-velocity cubic lattice eliminates the velocity dependence of the pressure
term that is encountered for one-speed lattices. This lattice was proposed by Chen
et al. (1992). Figure 1 shows the lattice and the corresponding lattice velocity vectors.
Figure 1. The 15-velocity lattice and the corresponding lattice velocity vectors.
1042 D. Qian et al.
In the 15-velocity lattice, the equilibrium particle distribution function may be
expressed as (Sankaranarayanan et al., 1999, 2002; Sankaranarayanan and
q 1 þ3e
Á ðu þsaÞ þ
Á ðu þsaÞÞ
ðu þsaÞ Á ðu þsaÞ
where a denotes the sum of all forces per unit mass at a given lattice point, and w
denotes a set of weighting factors that have the following values:
; i ¼ 0
; i ¼ 1; . . . ; 6
; i ¼ 7; . . . ; 14
The values for the weighting factors in Equation (8) are chosen so that when the
expression for the equilibrium distribution function is substituted into Equation
(5), the correct values of the fluid density and velocity are obtained. He and Luo
(1997) discussed the choice of weighting factors.
The relaxation time for this lattice may be expressed as
s ¼ 3n þ0:5 ð9Þ
where n is the kinematic viscosity of the fluid. The expression in Equation (9) differs
from that used by Sankaranarayanan et al. (1999, 2002) and Sankaranarayanan and
Sundaresan (2000) because they used a different unit of length; in their article, the
length of the lattice spacing was
, while, in the present study, the length of the
lattice spacing is unity. The version of the LBM used in the present study is an
‘‘explicit’’ form. Sankaranarayanan et al. (2002) developed an implicit formulation
of the LBM, where the relationship between the kinematic viscosity and the relaxation
time is different than for the explicit formulation.
To derive the equation of state, one uses the first and second moment of the
LBM equation. The resulting expression for the pressure is:
p ¼ q=3 ð10Þ
The expression for the pressure in Equation (10) differs from that in
Sankaranarayanan et al. (2002) by a factor of three. This difference is caused by
the difference in the lattice spacing. Isothermal conditions are assumed in the simula-
tions reported by Sankaranarayanan et al. (1999, 2002) and Sankaranarayanan and
Sundaresan (2000) and the present simulations.
Using Equations (1–10), one may compute the distribution function at each lat-
tice site at any time step and obtain the corresponding density, velocity, and pressure
The BGK form of the lattice-Boltzmann equation (LBE) may be obtained by
combining Equations (1), (2), and (6):
; t þ1Þ Àf
ðx; tÞ ¼ À
ðx; tÞ Àf
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1043
Homogeneous Turbulence Generation
Stationary turbulence was generated in a three-dimensional periodic box using a
method that was suggested by Eswaran and Pope (1988) and further developed by
Ruetsch and Maxey (1991, 1992) and Wang and Maxey (1993). The fluid was stirred
by a random external force field throughout the domain, including the interior of the
bubbles. This force (per unit mass) appeared as a body force in the Navier-Stokes
As pointed out by Wang and Maxey (1993), it is desirable that the force field
should vary randomly in time so that the resulting turbulence can be spatially homo-
geneous. Earlier forcing schemes (e.g., Siggia, 1981; Squires and Eaton, 1991) used a
stationary forcing function so that the turbulence statistics were spatially inhomoge-
neous. Wang and Maxey used a stochastic forcing scheme that was suggested by
Eswaran and Pope (1988). The force was created by exciting the low-order Fourier
modes using a Uhlenbeck-Ornstein (UO) stochastic process. The reader is referred to
Wang and Maxey and Qian (2003) for the details.
In the single-phase flow runs, turbulence was developed from a motionless state.
Figure 2 shows the time evolution of the turbulence intensity, u
, defined as the spa-
tially averaged root-mean-square value of any component of the fluctuating turbu-
lent velocity. Typically, the initial 1000 time steps were needed to produce stationary
turbulence intensities. For the simulations to be discussed below, this period of time
corresponded to more than one eddy turnover time.
Table I lists parameter values for the single-phase homogeneous turbulence
simulations. In Table I, L is the box size; n is the kinematic viscosity; u
is the turbu-
lence intensity in one direction; L
, k, and g are the turbulence integral, Taylor, and
Kolmogorov length scales, respectively; e is the energy dissipation rate; T
is the eddy
turnover time (T
is the maximum wave number; and Re
Reynolds number based on the Taylor microscale. The box size, the kinematic vis-
cosity, and the turbulent intensity were specified for each run. The latter quantity
was determined by the strength of the stirring force. The other parameters may be
regarded as ‘‘outputs’’ of the simulations. Turbulence characteristics, such as the
intensity, length and time scales, energy spectra, and two-point velocity statistics,
were computed by averaging over both space and time after a stationary condition
Figure 2. Turbulence intensity versus time.
1044 D. Qian et al.
was established. In the simulations to be reported, all the values of k
g were larger
than unity. Eswaran and Pope (1988) found that when k
g is greater than unity,
the smallest scales of turbulent motion are resolved.
Figure 3 shows the one-dimensional energy spectra for the simulations to be dis-
cussed below. The spectra are scaled with Kolmogorov parameters (Wang and
Maxey, 1993). Figure 3 also shows experimental results obtained by Comte-Bellot
and Corrsin (1971) for Re
¼ 60:7. It may be seen that when scaled with Kolmogorov
variables, the results nearly collapse on a single curve. Therefore, in the simulations
to be discussed, most of the turbulence energy was in the dissipation range; there was
no inertial sub-range.
LBM for Two-Component, Two-Phase Flow
The LBM may be applied to multi component and=or multi phase systems.
Sankaranarayanan et al. (1999, 2002) and Sankaranarayanan and Sundaresan
(2000) described the results of such simulations for bubbly flows. They presented
results for phase equilibria and surface tension as well as for rising bubbles that
may distort significantly from a spherical shape.
Table I. Parameter values for the single-phase turbulence simulations
No. L n u
k g e Â10
1 96 0.015 0.0217 18.76 13.28 1.54 0.60 784 4.83 19.23
2 96 0.015 0.0367 19.76 11.44 1.10 2.31 582 3.46 28.00
3 96 0.015 0.0506 20.22 10.60 0.90 5.12 500 2.83 35.79
4 96 0.02 0.0202 19.66 14.47 1.92 0.59 698 6.03 14.64
5 96 0.02 0.0348 21.55 12.70 1.37 2.25 538 4.30 22.10
6 96 0.02 0.0499 20.90 11.81 1.11 5.36 465 3.49 29.49
7 64 0.02 0.0348 14.84 9.62 1.20 3.92 308 3.77 16.71
8 64 0.02 0.0467 14.50 8.72 0.98 8.60 253 3.08 20.35
Figure 3. One-dimensional energy spectra.
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1045
In a multicomponent simulation, the particles of each component satisfy a set of
equations similar to those described above. If it is desired to simulate a two-phase
gas-liquid system, attractive interactions may be introduced between the particles
of the condensable component. The solubility of the ideal gas component in the
liquid may be reduced by introducing an interaction between the components.
Macroscopic properties such as density, velocity, and pressure may be computed
from the distribution functions using mixture rules.
A superscript r that denotes the component may be introduced into Equations
(1)–(6), (9), and (11), and the fluid density and velocity may be computed by the
; qu ¼
The equilibrium particle distribution function may be expressed as
Á ðu þs
Á ðu þs
Þ Á ðu þs
Shan and Chen (1993) proposed the use of a particle interaction force to create
gas-liquid equilibria. They introduced the following inter particle potential to
describe the microscopic interactions:
Þ ¼ G
Þ is a Green’s function that describes the intensity of the interactions
between components r and r at lattice positions x and x
, and w is an ‘‘effective
mass.’’ Shan and Chen recommended a nearest-neighbor interaction:
0 jx Àx
j > l
is a constant and l
is the distance from a lattice site to its nearest neigh-
bors. From this interparticle potential, the total interparticle force F
ðxÞ acting on
the component r at lattice site x can be expressed as:
ðxÞ ¼ Àw
where S is the total number of components and b is the total number of non
zero lattice velocities. In the simulations to be reported, the ‘‘nearest neighbors’’ were
interpreted more broadly than in Sankaranarayanan et al. (1999, 2002) and
Sankaranarayanan and Sundaresan (2000) to include sites along diagonals in
addition to the directions parallel to the coordinate axes. Thus, each lattice site
had 14 nearest neighbors.
For the 15-velocity lattice, Equation (16) may be approximated as follows:
ðxÞ % À10w
1046 D. Qian et al.
The effect of the interparticle interaction force is accounted for through Equation
(13), where a
The Chapman-Enskog procedure yields the following result for the pressure:
In the two-phase flow runs, component 1 was condensable and component 2 was
an ideal gas. For the pure components, the equations of state take the following form:
The following expression for w, which was proposed by Shan and Chen (1993),
was used in the simulations to be discussed below:
w ¼ q
1 Àexp À
Sankaranarayanan et al. (1999, 2002) and Sankaranarayanan and Sundaresan
(2002) used alternative expressions for w. The constant q
was chosen to be 10. A
negative value of g
, which represents an attractive interaction between the particles
comprising component 1, was introduced to induce a phase transition. In the simula-
was À0.016. Figure 4 shows the equation of state relation for each compo-
nent. The other Green’s functions were chosen as follows: À0:008 g
À0:006 and g
¼ 0. The values of g
were adjusted to minimize the fraction of
condensable vapor inside the gas phase; it was necessary to choose negative values
to avoid unphysical behavior in the gas phase. Under these conditions, the density
in the bulk liquid phase was about 18 and the density in the bulk gas phase was
about 1.4. Thus, the density ratio was about 13; such a ratio would correspond to
a high-pressure system. For simplicity, the kinematic viscosities of the components
were assigned the same value.
Figure 4. Equations of state for pure components 1 and 2.
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1047
As pointed out by Shan and Chen (1993), the interparticle interaction creates
surface tension between the two phases. Provided that a drop or bubble is sufficiently
large, they found that the surface tension, as determined by the Young-Laplace law,
was independent of the radius of the drop or bubble. Sankaranarayanan (2002)
documented the fact that the surface tension is constant during deformation.
Both single-phase and two-phase flow simulations were performed. Most of the
turbulence characteristics were obtained from the single-phase flow simulations.
Two steps were involved in a two-phase flow simulation: (1) a stationary bubble with
a desired diameter was created and (2) the stirring force for the turbulence was
imposed to generate turbulence. Typically, several thousand time steps were needed
to approach stationary conditions.
The initial density field prescribed to create a stationary bubble strongly affected
the stability of the program and the time needed to reach the equilibrium state. In the
simulations to be discussed, a final density field from a simulation in a small compu-
tational box was used to create an initial density field for a simulation in a larger
box. This was done by assuming that the liquid density was uniform outside the
region in which the density field from the small box was used.
In order to improve the isotropy of the flow, and improve the accuracy of the
computed velocity field near the interface, a high-order expansion of the gradient
formula was adopted (Qian, 2003). The velocity of the fluid was computed by aver-
aging the values before and after the collision step (Shan and Chen, 1993) because
there was a large density gradient in the interface region. Figure 5 shows a density
contour plot and the density profile as a function of position along a line passing
through the center of a stationary bubble. From the pressure field of the stationary
bubble, the surface tension was computed by using the Young-Laplace law as
c ¼ Dpr=2, where Dp is the computed difference in average pressure between the
interior and the exterior of the bubble and r is the bubble radius. Typically, the bub-
ble interface is about 3$4 lattice units thick. Over the range of conditions examined
in the present simulations, it was observed that the interface thickness did not change
significantly with the bubble size. Therefore, if one wishes to minimize the effect of
the finite interfacial thickness, one needs to perform computations for a large bubble.
After a stationary bubble was created, a stirring force was used to generate
turbulence. The simulations provided velocity, pressure, and density fields on each
Figure 5. Cross-sectional view of density contours and the density profile for a stationary
bubble used as the initial condition for Run 6 of Table II.
1048 D. Qian et al.
time step. The density field was used to determine the location, size, and shape of the
bubbles. The bubble boundary was identified as the set of locations where the value
of the fluid density was equal to the average value of density in the bulk liquid and
bulk gas phase.
The bubble volume oscillated as a result of the turbulence fluctuations. It is
known (see Feng and Leal, 1994) that shape and volume oscillations are coupled.
Sankaranarayanan (2002) benchmarked the bubble oscillations obtained from
LBM simulations against theory and experiment. For the simulations to be reported,
the bubble volume oscillation was less than 20%; the corresponding variation in the
equivalent spherical diameter was roughly 7%. The physical situation corresponding
to the simulations was that of a liquid-gas mixture in which the liquid was close to
the boiling point so that pressure variations around its surface could cause signifi-
cant phase changes. Increasing the bubble size reduced the pressure difference
and, therefore, decreased the volume oscillations.
Table II lists parameter values for the two-phase simulations in lattice units. By com-
bining variables, one can create dimensionless groups that can be compared with
experimental results. The initial condition for all simulations was a single bubble,
of diameter d
, in a three-dimensional periodic box with either 96
The duration of most runs was 10,000 time steps. However, Runs 4, 5, 8, and 14 were
stopped after the bubble broke because of subsequent numerical instabilities that
lead to unphysical behavior. In Table II, L is the length of the computational box
Table II. Parameter values for the two-phase turbulence simulations
No. L n d
We hSi hA
1 96 0.015 44.98 19.23 1.025 0.0318 0.0291 — 0.686
2 96 0.015 44.98 28.00 2.900 0.544 0.257 11.00 0.686
0.015 44.98 28.00 2.900 0.211 0.134 — 0.686
4 96 0.015 44.98 35.79 5.368 0.752 0.413 2.80 0.686
0.015 44.98 35.79 5.368 0.665 0.192 4.00 0.686
6 96 0.015 34.16 19.23 0.930 0.0125 0.0033 — 0.573
7 96 0.015 34.16 28.00 2.470 0.0875 0.106 — 0.573
8 96 0.015 34.16 35.79 4.600 0.277 0.215 4.40 0.573
9 96 0.02 44.26 14.64 0.827 0.0213 0.0355 — 0.787
10 96 0.02 44.26 22.10 2.184 0.125 0.0840 — 0.787
11 96 0.02 44.26 29.49 4.551 0.615 0.3290 3.01 0.787
12 96 0.02 34.42 14.64 0.641 0.0183 0.0094 — 0.724
13 96 0.02 34.42 22.10 1.722 0.0757 0.0547 — 0.724
14 96 0.02 34.42 29.49 3.590 0.449 0.319 6.02 0.724
15 96 0.02 27.26 22.10 1.364 0.0457 0.0368 — 0.636
16 96 0.02 27.26 29.49 2.867 0.199 0.172 12.04 0.636
17 64 0.02 27.75 16.71 1.607 0.0615 0.0482 — 0.684
18 64 0.02 27.75 20.35 2.848 0.170 0.107 37.94 0.684
Different turbulent series with the same strength.
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1049
is based on the single-phase flow simulations; We is based on the single-
phase averaged (over space and time) longitudinal velocity difference over distances
equal to the bubble equivalent spherical diameter; S
À1 is the fractional
deviation (at any instant) of the bubble total surface area relative to its initial value,
, for the spherical bubble released at t ¼ 0; A
À1 is the fractional devi-
ation of the area projected by the bubble on the x-y plane (computed to allow com-
parisons with the experiments of Risso and Fabre) relative to its initial value;
h idenotes time averaging over the entire duration of a run; and T
is the time of
the first bubble breakup divided by the eddy turnover time from Table I. The surface
tension (computed from the initial stationary bubble using the Young-Laplace law)
is given in the final column; it depends weakly on the kinematic viscosity and the
When performing a LBM simulation, it is not necessary to perform ‘‘numerical
surgery’’ to permit a bubble or drop to break. In this respect, the LBM differs from
some alternative numerical simulation methods, such as the finite element or bound-
ary element methods, since it does not explicitly track an interface and simulates a
fluid with density variations. However, one must still establish criteria to determine
when a bubble has broken. These criteria are based on the density of the fluid.
Figure 6 shows the relation between the mean deformation, hS
i, and the Weber
number for the runs in Table II. For We < 3 the distortion of the bubble is small and
the bubble does not break. For We > 3, bubble distortion is significant, the bubble
breaks, and the data points become more scattered. Therefore, the simulations sug-
gest a critical Weber number We
% 3:0. When the critical Weber number was
exceeded, the time-averaged total bubble surface area increased by 20 to 80%.
i plot is shown to facilitate comparison with the corresponding plot by Risso
A goal of this study was to better understand the mechanism of bubble breakup.
To that end, predictions for the maximum stable bubble diameter, d
, based on the
force balance mechanism were compared to the simulation results. Table III shows
predictions based on the formulae suggested by Hinze (1955), Levich (1962), Baldyga
Figure 6. Mean variation of bubble surface area and projected area versus Weber number for
the runs in Table II. The run numbers for selected runs appear in brackets [ ].
1050 D. Qian et al.
and Bourne (1995), and Shinnar (1961):
In the above formulae, c, q
, e, l
, and L
denote the surface tension, den-
sity of the bubble, density of the liquid, average turbulent energy dissipation rate in
the single-phase simulation, viscosity of the gas, viscosity of the liquid, and the inte-
gral length scale of the single-phase simulation, respectively. In calculating d
values of the surface tension, liquid density, gas density, and dissipation rate were
taken to be (in dimensionless LBM units) 0.7, 18, 1.4, and 2.31 Â10
The value of the dissipation rate is that for Run 2 in Table I. The predicted d
values may be compared with Runs 2, 3, and 7 in Table II.
Breakup was observed for Run 2, for which the initial bubble diameter was 45.
The fact that bubble breakup was not observed in Run 7 does not necessarily mean
that the predictions of the models are incorrect since, by simply changing the initial
seed used to compute the random stirring force, no breakup was observed in Run 3
even though all of the physical parameters were identical to those in Run 2. This is
consistent with the idea that the fluctuations leading to breakup are intermittent and
one cannot be sure that breakup would not occur if one performed a simulation (or
zero gravity experiment) over a longer period of time. Indeed, it may be seen that, in
Run 18, breakup occurred for a bubble having a diameter equal to 27.8. The single-
phase dissipation rate in this case was 8.60 Â10
. The predictions of the different
models for Run 18 are given in Table IV.
Table III. Predicted maximum stable bubble sizes for Runs 2, 3,
and 7 in Table II
Hinze Levich Baldyga and Bourne Shinnar
18.4 42.4 28.9 206
Table IV. Predicted maximum stable bubble sizes for Run 18 in
Hinze Levich Baldyga and Bourne Shinnar
10.5 24.1 14.8 87.0
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1051
The only model that is clearly inconsistent with the simulations is that of
Shinnar. This is not surprising since Shinnar’s theory is based on a small bubble-
scale Reynolds number assumption, and the bubble-scale Reynolds number was
large compared to unity in all simulations. On the other hand, one could also not
expect perfect agreement with the models of Hinze, Levich, or Baldyga and Bourne
since those models were based on the assumption that the turbulence Reynolds num-
ber was sufficiently large to permit the existence of an inertial sub-range. Figure 7
shows the quantity hdu
(d)i for one of the single-phase simulations (Run 3). The pre-
diction of the Kolmogorov theory for this quantity in the inertial sub-range is also
shown in Figure 7. It may be seen that there is a significant difference between the
Kolmogorov theory and the computed values. The difference becomes larger for
smaller values of the separation, d, which is consistent with the notion that the
energy spectrum in the simulations decreases more rapidly in the simulated turbu-
lence than it would in the inertial sub-range of high Reynolds number turbulence.
It may also be seen from Figure 7 that the bubbles used in the simulations were
comparable to or larger than the integral scale of the turbulence. Therefore, the
maximum size of a bubble based on Hinze’s model should be given by
Figure 8 shows the frequency power spectrum of the variations in the bubble
projected area and the corresponding time series for Run 3. According to Risso
and Fabre, the n ¼ 2 oscillation appears as a maximum in the frequency spectrum
of the projected area. The frequency and damping constant of the oscillations of a
bubble at large Reynolds number are given by Lamb (1932). For the conditions of
Run 3 in Table II, the period of the oscillation is 989 LBM units or 1.26 eddy turn-
over times. It may be seen from Figure 8 that there is no clear evidence of an unu-
sually strong oscillation at this period. On the other hand, the raw power spectra
shown by Risso and Fabre also typically exhibited weak maxima at the n ¼ 2 mode
frequency. It is also likely that the relatively large gas volume fraction and the inter-
action of a bubble with its periodic neighbors influenced the bubble dynamics. Well-
defined maxima appeared only after Fougere’s method had been applied to the raw
time data; this approach was not attempted in the present work. Although it is not
Figure 7. Predictions of the Kolmogorov theory for hdu
(d)i in the inertial sub-range com-
pared with the computed values in a single-phase run.
1052 D. Qian et al.
possible to make a definitive statement regarding the n ¼ 2 mode based on the
present simulations, complex oscillations followed by an abrupt breakup were
observed in the simulations; this may be consistent with the notion of stochastic res-
onance suggested by Risso and Fabre.
In the experimental observations reported by Risso and Fabre, it was not feas-
ible to determine the variations in the total surface area of a bubble. An advantage of
numerical simulations is that this information is accessible and may be related to
other items of interest such as the times at which a bubble breaks up. Figure 9 shows
a measure of the bubble deformation based on its surface area, S
, as a function of
the time measured in eddy turnover times for Runs 1 and 13. As may be seen, the
bubble does not break. The Reynolds numbers of the single-phase flows based on
the Taylor microscale were 19.23 and 22.1. The largest change in the bubble surface
area is roughly 28%. Figure 10 shows S
for two cases (Runs 2 and 14 of Table II)
for which the bubble breaks. It may be seen that the bubble does not break at the
Figure 8. Frequency power spectrum and time dependence of the deviation of the projected
Figure 9. Variation of bubble surface area with time for a case in which the bubble did not
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1053
time when the largest value of S
is reached. In fact, for Run 2, S
is decreasing at the
point of breakup, and it continues to decrease for some time after breakup. This may
occur when the bubble has been deformed to a shape like that shown in the first
panel of Figure 12 in which a satellite bubble has nearly broken away from the rest
of the bubble. When breakup finally occurs, the surface area actually decreases
slightly. However, as may be seen in Figure 10, the surface area eventually increases
again and S
eventually reaches values close to unity. In some cases, the child bub-
bles formed by a breakup eventually coalesced into a larger bubble. This behavior
may be due to the periodic boundary conditions, which prevent the child bubbles
from moving far away from one another.
Figure 11 shows the mode of breakup for most of the bubbles that broke in the
simulations. No more than three child bubbles were ever observed in any of the
simulations. However, as may be seen in Figure 4 of their article, Risso and Fabre
found examples in which as many as 10 child bubbles formed. It seems possible that
this difference is caused by the difference in the turbulent energy spectra in the simu-
lations and the experiments. The energy spectrum in the simulations decreased more
rapidly with wavenumber for wavelengths on the order of the bubble size than the
corresponding spectrum in the experiments. Therefore, one would expect that there
was less energy available to create the small-scale disturbances on the bubble surface
that would be likely to create large numbers of child bubbles.
Figure 12 shows images of the bubble just prior to and just after breakup for
Run 4. The images in Figure 11 are not at equally spaced times; they were selected
to show the typical behaviors of the bubbles. The bubble shapes are somewhat
smoother than those shown by Risso and Fabre, which may be consistent with the
notion that the energy spectrum for the simulated turbulence decreases more rapidly
with wavenumber than the spectrum in the experiments. Figure 13 shows a projec-
tion onto the plane of the paper of the velocity vectors at the surface of the bubble
at the same instants in time as those shown in Figure 12. It appears that the bridge
between the two child bubbles is broken by a shearing rather than an extensional
motion. This is consistent with the fact that, in many cases, the bubble surface area
achieves a maximum value before breaking. In such cases, the extensional motion
Figure 10. Variation of bubble surface area with time for two cases (Run 2, 14) in which the
1054 D. Qian et al.
deforms the bubble into a highly elongated shape, which then breaks up at a later
time when the surface area is somewhat smaller. However, once a neck forms in a
bubble, capillarity should play an important role in causing the neck’s diameter to
decrease. It is conceivable that capillarity, rather than shear, causes the breakup in
Figure 12. Bubble breakup for Run 4.
Figure 11. Bubble breakup patterns.
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1055
An effort was made to identify simple criteria for breakup based on the stretch-
ing of a bubble or the difference in fluid velocities at different points on its surface.
However, no critical values could be established for the maximum linear dimension
of a bubble or the maximum magnitude of the difference between values of the fluid
velocity at points on the bubble surface. In both cases, examples were found in which
a large value was observed followed by a decrease to much smaller values, and, poss-
ibly after many more oscillations, breakup occurred at a value of the parameter that
was often substantially smaller than the maximum value that had been observed.
Table V summarizes results for the maximum difference between velocities at differ-
ent points on the bubble and the largest linear dimension of the bubble at breakup.
The maximum difference in the fluid velocity vectors between different points on the
surface of the bubble, dv
, is compared with the root-mean-square value,
The difference is at least three times the root-mean-square value. Much larger differ-
ences were, however, observed long before breakup in several cases. Table V also
gives the values of the largest linear dimension of the bubble, l
, divided by the
spherical diameter of the bubble. The value of l
is determined at the point of
breakup. It may be seen that the largest linear dimension of the bubble varies widely;
in one case it is only 33% larger than the equivalent spherical diameter, while in
another case it is 133% larger. A related parameter is a Weber number based on
the largest linear dimension and the maximum velocity difference across the bubble
at the point of breakup. This quantity also varies widely, with values between 31 and
Figure 13. Projections of the velocity vectors at the surfaces of the bubbles in Figure 11.
Table V. Velocity field and bubble characteristics at or near the point of breakup
2 4.343 2.078 43.51 1.022 0.547
4 3.539 1.973 48.04 0.578 0.352
5 5.473 2.456 122.27 0.871 0.495
8 4.228 1.329 31.20 0.395 0.535
11 3.132 1.809 33.82 0.368 0.251
14 3.823 2.147 56.03 0.638 0.504
16 3.569 2.333 47.95 0.375 0.487
18 4.639 1.590 38.10 1.081 0.590
1056 D. Qian et al.
122. However, in all cases, this Weber number is an order of magnitude larger than
the Weber number based on the average flow characteristics of the single-phase flow
and the equivalent spherical diameter of the bubble. These results underscore the
stochastic nature of breakup, which is consistent with the results of Risso and Fabre.
Finally, Risso and Fabre showed a plot of the fraction of bubbles in their experi-
ments that experienced a given maximum deformation. Deformation was measured
. They showed results for different elapsed times from the beginning of an
experiment. A vertical line on their graph indicated the onset of break up. The cor-
responding maximum amount of deformation experienced by a bubble was approxi-
mately 0.5. This means that A
reached this value at or before the time of breakup.
Intuitively, it seems likely that this quantity is less sensitive to the duration of the
experiments than the fraction of bubbles that breakup or the maximum stable bubble
Figure 14. Fraction of bubbles with a given maximum amount of deformation, A
, at four dif-
ferent times normalized by the eddy turnover time.
Figure 15. Fraction of bubbles with a given maximum amount of deformation, S
, at four
different times normalized by the eddy turnover time.
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1057
size. For comparison, Figure 14 shows the computed results. It may be seen that the
minimum amount of deformation needed for breakup in the simulations is about
half of the experimental value. Figure 14 also shows a vertical line corresponding
to the minimum amount of deformation needed to guarantee breakup. The value
of this quantity is 0.6. The corresponding experimental value is 1.0.
Figure 15 is similar to Figure 14 except that the deformation is measured by S
rather than A
. The minimum amount of deformation needed for breakup, by this
measure, is approximately 0.37. The minimum amount of deformation needed to
guarantee breakup is 1.0.
In many respects, the results for bubble breakup in this paper agree well with the
low-gravity bubble breakup experiments reported by Risso and Fabre (1998). In
both cases, a Weber number can be identified below which breakup is not observed.
This Weber number is based on the statistics of the single-phase flow that would
exist in the absence of the bubble. In the simulations, this Weber number was
approximately 3.0. The value of the Weber number below which breakup is not
observed probably depends on the duration of the simulation. For a longer simula-
tion, a lower value would probably have been obtained. The simulations indicate
that the minimum amount of deformation, as measured by the fractional change
in the bubble surface area, prior to breakup is about 0.37. The corresponding defor-
mation, as measured by the fractional change in the area projected by the bubble on
a plane is about 0.25. The latter value is smaller than the value suggested by Risso
and Fabre. The mean deformation plots in Figure 6 of the present article are quali-
tatively similar to the experimental plot of deformation as measured by the projected
area. In both the simulations and the experiments, there is a fairly abrupt transition
to much larger values of the deformation near the critical Weber number.
No simple criteria could be found that could be associated with breakup. In sev-
eral cases, bubbles became highly extended and then returned to much more com-
pact shapes before breaking. The maximum magnitude of the velocity difference
between any two points on a bubble’s surface is also not a good indicator of whether
or not a bubble will break. As with the linear dimension of the bubble, extremely
large velocity differences were sometimes observed after which the velocity differ-
ences became substantially smaller before the bubble finally broke. Similar behavior
was obtained for the surface area of a bubble. These observations appear to be con-
sistent with the conclusion of Risso and Fabre that breakup is a stochastic process.
They argued that stochastic resonance played an important role in the breakup pro-
cess. The simulations provide some indirect support for this idea since, in most cases,
breakup was preceded by a slow, secular growth of the maximum linear dimension.
It appears that the spatial structure of the flow in the vicinity is more important than
simple criteria such as linear extension or surface area in determining when a bubble
will break. As a consequence of the computational demands of the simulations, it
was not possible to obtain statistical results for the characteristics of the flow field,
but this would be a useful goal for a future work.
A point of disagreement between the experiments of Risso and Fabre and the
present simulations lies in the number of child bubbles that result from breakup.
In the simulations, no more than 3 child bubbles resulted from breakup. However,
in the experiments, as many as 10 child bubbles were observed. It seems plausible
1058 D. Qian et al.
that the latter difference may be due to the fact that, in the simulations, the energy
spectrum of the turbulence decreases more quickly with wavenumber than in the
experiments, in which the bubbles were in the inertial sub-range of length scales.
The finite size of the computational domain and the associated interaction of a bub-
ble with its periodic neighbors are also likely sources of discrepancies between the
simulations and the experiments. Finally, small bubbles may simply dissolve due
to Ostwald ripening.
An advantage of the simulations is that they provide information about the sur-
face area of the bubbles. For the largest bubble and Reynolds number, the average
surface area was 80% larger than the area of a sphere with the same volume. How-
ever, the results also indicate a sensitivity to initial conditions that suggests a much
longer simulation time would be needed to obtain accurate statistical results. The
stochastic nature of the breakup process is an important point of agreement between
the simulations and the experiments of Risso and Fabre.
This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under Grant DE-FG02-
88ER13919 and by a grant from DuPont. We acknowledge the support and facilities
of the National Center for Supercomputer Applications at the University of Illinois
at Urbana, Illinois. The authors would also like to express their appreciation to
Dr. X. Shan for helpful discussions about the lattice Boltzmann method.
a force per unit mass
A bubble total projected area at x-y plane
projected area of a spherical bubble at x-y plane
bubble projected area variation relative to a spherical bubble
b total number of nonzero velocity states on a lattice site
equivalent spherical diameter of a bubble
maximum stable bubble size
1-D turbulence energy spectrum
particle distribution function
particle distribution function at collision step
equilibrium distribution function
parameter that controls turbulence intensity
F external force per unit mass in physical space
interphase force per unit volume
fraction of bubbles that experience a given maximum deformation
FF external force per unit mass in spectral space
modified external force per unit mass in spectral space
g Green’s function parameter
) Green’s function
k wave vector
l, m, n coordinates in spectral space
Simulation of Bubble Breakup Dynamics 1059
distance from a lattice site to its nearest neighbors.
L box size
longitudinal scale of turbulence
N number of grid points along one of the box edges
p.s.d. power spectrum density
r initial radius of bubble
Taylor microscale Reynolds number
S bubble total surface area
surface area of a spherical bubble
fractional change of bubble surface area relative to a spherical bubble
time measured in eddy turnover times
dimensionless time of the first bubble breakup measured in eddy turn-
time period over which the turbulence is modulated
eddy turnover time
turbulence intensity in one direction
Þ interparticle potential
We Weber number
critical Weber number for bubble breakup
x, y, z coordinates in physical space
^ xx; ^yy; ^zz unit vectors
random numbers between 0 and 1
Gaussian random number
a, b stochastic process constants
c surface tension
(d)i mean square of the difference in the turbulent velocities over a distance
equal to d
maximum difference in the fluid velocity vectors between different
points on the bubble surface
Dp pressure difference between the interior and the exterior of the bubble
Ds time interval in stochastic process
e energy dissipation rate
g Kolmogorov scale of turbulence
k Taylor microscale of turbulence
l dynamic viscosity of the liquid
n kinematic viscosity of the liquid
s relaxation time
1060 D. Qian et al.
Subscripts and Superscripts
1 liquid component
2 gas component
b bubble phase
r; r component label
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