Bubbly drag reduction using a hydrophobic inner cylinder in Taylor-Couette turbulence

Pim A. Bullee, Ruben A. Verschoof, Dennis Bakhuis, Sander G. Huisman, Chao Sun*, Rob G.H. Lammertink, Detlef Lohse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
110 Downloads (Pure)


In this study we experimentally investigate bubbly drag reduction in a highly turbulent flow of water with dispersed air at over a non-wetting surface containing micro-scale roughness. To do so, the Taylor-Couette geometry is used, allowing for both accurate global drag and local flow measurements. The inner cylinder - coated with a rough, hydrophobic material - is rotating, whereas the smooth outer cylinder is kept stationary. The crucial control parameter is the air volume fraction present in the working fluid. For small volume fractions (<![CDATA[$\unicode[STIX]{x1D6FC}), we observe that the surface roughness from the coating increases the drag. For large volume fractions of air , the drag decreases compared to the case with both the inner and outer cylinders uncoated, i.e. smooth and hydrophilic, using the same volume fraction of air. This suggests that two competing mechanisms are at play: on the one hand, the roughness invokes an extension of the log layer - resulting in an increase in drag - and, on the other hand, there is a drag-reducing mechanism of the hydrophobic surface interacting with the bubbly liquid. The balance between these two effects determines whether there is overall drag reduction or drag enhancement. For further increased bubble concentration we find a saturation of the drag reduction effect. Our study gives guidelines for industrial applications of bubbly drag reduction in hydrophobic wall-bounded turbulent flows.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA61
JournalJournal of fluid mechanics
Early online date25 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2020


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Drag reduction
  • Taylor-Couette flow
  • Coating


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