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Liquid-infused surfaces as a passive method of turbulent drag reduction

  • M. K. Fu (a1), I. Arenas (a2), S. Leonardi (a3) and M. Hultmark (a1)


Liquid-infused surfaces present a novel, passive method of turbulent drag reduction. Inspired by the Nepenthes Pitcher Plant, liquid-infused surfaces utilize a lubricating fluid trapped within structured roughness to facilitate a slip at the effective surface. The conceptual idea is similar to that of superhydrophobic surfaces, which rely on a lubricating air layer, whereas liquid-infused surfaces use a preferentially wetting liquid lubricant to create localized fluid–fluid interfaces. Maintaining the presence of these slipping interfaces has been shown to be an effective method of passively reducing skin friction drag in turbulent flows. Given that liquid-infused surfaces have only recently been considered for drag reduction applications, there is no available framework to relate surface and lubricant characteristics to any resulting drag reduction. Here we use results from direct numerical simulations of turbulent channel flow over idealized, liquid-infused grooves to demonstrate that the drag reduction achieved using liquid-infused surfaces can be described using the framework established for superhydrophobic surfaces. These insights can be used to explain drag reduction results observed in experimental studies of lubricant-infused surfaces. We also demonstrate how a liquid-infused surface can reduce drag even when the viscosity of the lubricant exceeds that of the external fluid flow, which at first glance can seem counter-intuitive.


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