Drop pinch-off and filament dynamics of wormlike micellar fluids

L. B. Smolka and A. Belmonte
Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics 115, 1-25 (2003)


Observations are presented of several novel phenomena involved in the dynamics of a pendant drop of viscoelastic micellar fluid falling through air. Generally, when a drop falls a filament forms connecting it to the orifice; the filament eventually breaks due to an instability. The filament dynamics and instabilities reported here are very different from the standard Newtonian and non-Newtonian cases. At low surfactant concentration, the cylindrical filament necks down and pinches off rapidly (~10 ms) at one location along the filament. After pinch-off the free filament ends retract and no satellite drops are produced. At higher concentrations, the pinch-off also occurs along the filament, but in a more gradual process (~1 s). Furthermore, the free filament ends do not fully retract, instead retaining some of their deformation. The falling drop is also observed to slow or even stop (stall) before pinch-off, indicating that sufficient elastic stress has built up to balance its weight. We investigate this stall by generalizing Keiller's simple model for filament motion, using instead the FENE-CR constitutive equation. Numerical simulations of this model indicate that stall occurs in the range of low solvent viscosity, high elasticity, and high molecular weight. At the highest concentrations, we observe a surface ``blistering'' instability along the filament long before pinch-off occurs.