When a wetting liquid is displaced by air in a capillary tube, a wetting film develops between the tube wall and the air that is responsible for the snap-off mechanism of the gas phase. By dissolving a dye in the wetting phase it is possible to relate a measure of the absorbance in the capillary to the thickness of liquid films. These data could be used to compare with cutting edge numerical simulations of the dynamics of snap-off for which experimental and numerical data are lacking. Drainage experiments in constricted capillary tubes were performed where a dyed wetting liquid is displaced by air for varying flow rates. We developed an optical method to measure liquid film thicknesses that range from 3 to 1000μm. The optical measures are validated by comparison with both theory and direct numerical simulations. In a constricted capillary tube we observed, both experimentally and numerically, a phenomenon of snap-off coalescence events in the vicinity of the constriction that bring new insights into our understanding and modeling of two-phase flows. In addition, the good agreement between experiments and numerical simulations gives confidence to use the numerical method for more complex geometries in the future.
Keywords: Optical method; Snap-off; Thin films; Two-phase flow.
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