Forced dewetting in a capillary tube

Peng Gao, Ao Liu, James J. Feng, Hang Ding and Xi-Yun Lu

J. Fluid Mech. 859, 308-320 (2019).

Abstract - Liquid films can be entrained when the dewetting velocity attains a threshold, and this dynamical wetting transition has been well studied in the situation of plane substrates. We investigate the forced dewetting in a capillary tube using diffuse-interface simulations and lubrication analysis, focusing on the onset of wetting transition and subsequent interface evolution. Results show that the meniscus remains stable when the displacing rate is below a threshold, beyond which film entrainment occurs and eventually leads to the formation of Taylor bubbles separated by liquid slugs, as has also been observed in the recent experiments of Zhao et al. (Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 120, 2018, 084501). We derive an analytical solution of the critical capillary number, and demonstrate that the wetting transition is accompanied by a vanishing apparent contact angle and an abrupt drop of the contact-line velocity. Both the bubble and slug lengths are found to depend on the capillary number and the wettability of the wall. A theoretical formula for the bubble length is also proposed and compares favourably with numerical and experimental results.