Two-layer thermally driven turbulence: Mechanisms for interface breakup

Hao-Ran Liu, Kai Leong Chong, Qi Wang, Chong Shen Ng, Roberto Verzicco, Detlef Lohse*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
65 Downloads (Pure)


It is commonly accepted that the breakup criteria of drops or bubbles in turbulence is governed by surface tension and inertia. However, also buoyancy can play an important role at breakup. In order to better understand this role, here we numerically study two-dimensional Rayleigh-Bénard convection for two immiscible fluid layers, in order to identify the effects of buoyancy on interface breakup. We explore the parameter space spanned by the Weber number (the ratio of inertia to surface tension) and the density ratio between the two fluids, at fixed Rayleigh number and Prandtl number. At low, the interface undulates due to plumes. When is larger than a critical value, the interface eventually breaks up. Depending on, two breakup types are observed. The first type occurs at small (e.g. air-water systems) when local filament thicknesses exceed the Hinze length scale. The second, strikingly different, type occurs at large with roughly <![CDATA[$0.5 (e.g. oil-water systems): the layers undergo a periodic overturning caused by buoyancy overwhelming surface tension. For both types, the breakup criteria can be derived from force balance arguments and show good agreement with the numerical results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA9
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of fluid mechanics
Early online date22 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2021


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Bénard convection
  • turbulence simulation
  • breakup/coalescence
  • breakup
  • coalescence
  • Benard convection


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