Research

Droplet Collisions

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When droplets collide, there are three basic outcomes: they bounce off one another; they coalesce into one big drop; or they coalesce and then separate. Which outcome we observe depends on the relative importance of the droplets’ inertia compared to their surface tension. This is expressed through the dimensionless Weber number, made up of density, velocity, droplet diameter, and surface tension. For a low Weber number droplet, surface tension is still significant, so colliding droplets bounce off one another. At a moderate Weber number, the droplets coalesce. But when the fluid inertia is too high, as in the high Weber number example, the drops will coalesce but still have too much momentum and ultimately separate. (Video credit: G. Oldenziel)

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