Motion of a sphere in a viscous fluid towards a wall confined versus unconfined conditions
In the present work, we investigate experimentally and numerically the motion of solid macroscopic spheres (Brownian and colloidal effects are negligible) when settling from rest in a quiescent fluid toward a solid wall under confined and unconfined configurations. Particle trajectories for spheres of two types of materials are measured using a high-speed digital camera. For unconfined configurations, our experimental findings are in excellent agreement with well-established analytical frameworks, used to describe the forces acting on the sphere. Besides, the experimental values of the terminal velocity obtained for different confinements are also in very good agreement with previous theoretical formulations. Similar conditions are simulated using a resolved CFD-DEM approach. After adjusting the parameters of the numerical model, we analyze the particle dynamic under several confinement conditions. The simulations results are contrasted with the experimental findings, obtaining a good agreement. We analyze several systems varying the radius of the bead and show the excellent agreement of our results with previous analytical approaches. However, the results indicate that confined particles have a distinct dynamics response when approaching the wall. Consequently, their motion cannot be described by the analytical framework introduced for the infinite system. Indeed, the confinement strongly affects the spatial scale where the particle is affected by the bottom wall and, accordingly, the dimensionless results can not be collapsed in a single master curve, using the particle size as a characteristic length. Alternatively, we rationalize our findings using a kinematic approximation to highlight the relevant scale of the problem. Our outcomes suggest it is possible to determine a new spatial scale to describe the collisional process, depending on the specific confining conditions.