This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
The thin film lubrication approximation has been studied extensively for moving contact lines of Newtonian fluids. However, many industrial and biological applications of the thin film equation involve shear-thinning fluids, which often also exhibit a Newtonian plateau at low shear. This study presents new numerical simulations of the three-dimensional (i.e. two-dimensional spreading), constant-volume, gravity-driven, free surface flow of an Ellis fluid. The numerical solution was validated with a new similarity solution, compared to previous experiments, and then used in a parametric study. The parametric study centered around rheological data for an example biological application of thin film flow: topical drug delivery of anti-HIV microbicide formulations, e.g. hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC) polymer solutions. The parametric study evaluated how spreading length and front velocity saturation depend on Ellis parameters. A lower concentration polymer solution with smaller zero shear viscosity (η0), τ1/2, and λ values spread further. However, when comparing any two fluids with any possible combinations of Ellis parameters, the impact of changing one parameter on spreading length depends on the direction and magnitude of changes in the other two parameters. In addition, the isolated effect of the shear-thinning parameter, λ, on the front velocity saturation depended on τ1/2. This study highlighted the relative effects of the individual Ellis parameters, and showed that the shear rates in this flow were in both the shear-thinning and plateau regions of rheological behavior, emphasizing the importance of characterizing the full range of shear-rates in rheological measurements. The validated numerical model and parametric study provides a useful tool for future steps to optimize flow of a fluid with rheological behavior well-described by the Ellis constitutive model, in a range of industrial and biological applications.
Vitaly O. Kheyfets, Sarah L. Kieweg, Gravity-driven thin film flow of an ellis fluid, Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics, Volume 202, December 2013, Pages 88-98, ISSN 0377-0257, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnnfm.2013.09.010.
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