Deike receives NSF CAREER grant to study bubble fragmentation in turbulent liquids

Morgan Kelly ・ Princeton Environmental Institute

Luc Deike, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute, has received a five-year, $410,000 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to study how bubbles break up in moving fluids, or turbulent flows, such as ocean water.

The breakup of bubbles in turbulent flows is important in many environmental and industrial situations, including oil-spill cleanup and the exchange of gas and particles between the ocean and atmosphere. Bubbles may deform and break violently, and the newly formed bubbles dramatically increase the transfer of heat and matter — such as particulates — between air and liquid.

Deike, who specializes in fundamental fluid dynamics, plans to develop a series of advanced numerical and experimental studies that examine the fragmentation of bubbles in turbulent flow under realistic conditions. His goal is to produce a general model that describes the roles of turbulent flow and the properties of the bubble surface in determining how bubbles rupture. The research also will explore the little-known effect that dissolved substances within the surface of a bubble — as well as in “satellite” bubbles that form after an initial bubble bursts — have on reducing surface tension and influencing bubble rupture.

Deike’s work could provide a major step forward in designing engineering solutions to controlling and harnessing bubble breaking. It also could help scientists understand how bubbles affect the exchange of gases such as carbon dioxide between the ocean and the atmosphere, which could be implemented in ocean and climate models.

The award also supports educational activities for elementary school students, undergraduates and graduate students. In addition, software developed through this work will be open source and widely available to the public and other researchers interested in modeling multiphase flows.