Experimental Measurements of Stretching Fields in Fluid Mixing

Greg A. Voth, G. Haller, J. P. Gollub
2002 Physical Review Letters  
The mixing of an impurity into a flowing fluid is an important process in many areas of science, including geophysical processes, chemical reactors, and microfluidic devices. In some cases, for example periodic flows, the concepts of nonlinear dynamics provide a deep theoretical basis for understanding mixing. Unfortunately, the building blocks of this theory, i.e. the fixed points and invariant manifolds of the associated Poincare map, have remained inaccessible to direct experimental study,
more » ... us limiting the insight that could be obtained. Using precision measurements of tracer particle trajectories in a two-dimensional fluid flow producing chaotic mixing, we directly measure the time-dependent stretching and compression fields. These quantities, previously available only numerically, attain local maxima along lines coinciding with the stable and unstable manifolds, thus revealing the dynamical structures that control mixing. Contours or level sets of a passive impurity field are found to be aligned parallel to the lines of large compression (unstable manifolds) at each instant. This connection appears to persist as the onset of turbulence is approached.
doi:10.1103/physrevlett.88.254501 pmid:12097088 fatcat:t2us7wduqnha7b25qeo5v734yq