Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 April 2006
Experimental observations and linear stability analysis are used to quantitatively describe a purely elastic flow instability in the inertialess motion of a viscoelastic fluid confined between a rotating cone and a stationary circular disk. Beyond a critical value of the dimensionless rotation rate, or Deborah number, the spatially homogeneous azimuthal base flow that is stable in the limit of small Reynolds numbers and small cone angles becomes unstable with respect to non-axisymmetric disturbances in the form of spiral vortices that extend throughout the fluid sample. Digital video-imaging measurements of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the instability in a highly elastic, constant-viscosity fluid show that the resulting secondary flow is composed of logarithmically spaced spiral roll cells that extend across the disk in the self-similar form of a Bernoulli Spiral.
Linear stability analyses are reported for the quasi-linear Oldroyd-B constitutive equation and the nonlinear dumbbell model proposed by Chilcott & Rallison. Introduction of a radial coordinate transformation yields an accurate description of the logarithmic spiral instabilities observed experimentally, and substitution into the linearized disturbance equations leads to a separable eigenvalue problem. Experiments and calculations for two different elastic fluids and for a range of cone angles and Deborah numbers are presented to systematically explore the effects of geometric and rheological variations on the spiral instability. Excellent quantitative agreement is obtained between the predicted and measured wavenumber, wave speed and spiral mode of the elastic instability. The Oldroyd-B model correctly predicts the non-axisymmetric form of the spiral instability; however, incorporation of a shear-rate-dependent first normal stress difference via the nonlinear Chilcott–Rallison model is shown to be essential in describing the variation of the stability boundaries with increasing shear rate.
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