Dynamic wetting is crucial to processes where a liquid displaces another fluid along a solid surface, such as the deposition of a coating liquid onto a moving substrate. Numerous studies report the failure of dynamic wetting when process speed exceeds some critical value. Typically, wetting failure is a precursor to air entrainment, which produces catastrophic defects in coatings. However, the hydrodynamic factors that influence the transition to wetting failure remain poorly understood from empirical and theoretical perspectives. This work investigates the fundamentals of wetting failure in a variety of systems that are relevant to industrial coating flows. A hydrodynamic model is developed for planar and axisymmetric geometries where an advancing fluid displaces a receding fluid along a smooth, moving substrate. Numerical solutions predict the onset of wetting failure at a critical substrate speed, which coincides with a turning point in the steady-state solution path for a given set of system parameters. Flow-field analysis reveals a physical mechanism where wetting failure results when capillary forces can no longer support the pressure gradients necessary to steadily displace the receding fluid.Novel experimental systems are used to measure the substrate speeds and meniscus shapes associated with the onset of air entrainment during wetting failure. Using high-speed visualization techniques, air entrainment is identified by the elongation of triangular air films with system-dependent size. Air films become unstable to thickness perturbations and ultimately rupture, leading to the entrainment of air bubbles. Meniscus confinement in a narrow gap between the substrate and a stationary plate is shown to delay air entrainment to higher speeds for a variety of water/glycerol solutions. In addition, liquid pressurization (relative to ambient air) further postpones air entrainment when the meniscus is located near a sharp corner along the plate. Recorded critical speeds compare well to predictions from the model, supporting the hydrodynamic mechanism for the onset of wetting failure. Lastly, the common practice of curtain coating is investigated using the hydrodynamic model. Due to the complexity of this system, a new hybrid method is developed to reduce computational cost associated with the numerical analysis. Results show that the onset of wetting failure varies strongly with the operating conditions of this system. In addition, stresses from the air flow dramatically affect the steady wetting behavior of curtain coating. Ultimately, these findings emphasize the important role of two-fluid displacement mechanics during high-speed wetting. Although this work was motivated by coating flows, it is also relevant to a number of other applications such as microfluidic devices, oil-recovery systems, and splashing droplets.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2013. Major: Chemical Engineering. Advisors: Satish Kumar and Marcio S. Carvalho. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 239 pages, appendices A-D.
Vandre, Eric Allen.
Onset of dynamic wetting failure: the mechanics of high-speed fluid displacement.
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