Capillary channel flow experiment

2009 December 22
by Daniel Lakeland

Today I was sitting in the car here in New Jersey where my wife and I are visiting. She was in a store, and I was thinking about research. Suddenly, a bit of melted snow dribbled down the window and began to accumulate at the interface between the window and the rubber gasket on the door. Several years back at JKA, I worked on a model of water flow in small channels, including the effects of capillary action, wetting resistance, and channel leakage. The model was for the purpose of predicting the extent of damage in a tight channel behind wooden siding.

With the appropriate choice of constants, this model was essentially identical to the situation I was looking at on the window. As I sat, there before my eyes, nature was running the validation experiments for my model. Sure enough, the curve of the water air interface looked almost identical to the predicted curve from my solutions. InĀ  particular, the point at the rightmost end where the frontier for the outwardly expanding water met the rubber, glass, and air looked just like the solution I had computed. This was the portion of the solution that I always had the least confidence in, since the gradient of the water height becomes quite high and the second gradient also becomes large.

I need to write up that model, set up a couple of glass plates to replicate the experiment and do some validation, heck it's almost like a free publication since I've done most of the modeling work already, and nature has been kind enough to validate the work right here before my eyes. Merry Christmas, I guess.

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