On the transition to dripping of an inverted liquid film

M. G. Blyth*, T. S. Lin, D. Tseluiko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transition to dripping in the gravity-driven flow of a liquid film under an inclined plate is investigated at zero Reynolds number. Computations are carried out on a periodic domain assuming either a fixed fluid volume or a fixed flow rate for a hierarchy of models: two lubrication models with either linearised curvature or full curvature (the LCM and FCM, respectively), and the full equations of Stokes flow. Of particular interest is the breakdown of travelling-wave solutions as the plate inclination angle is increased. For any fixed volume, the LCM reaches the horizontal state where it attains a cosine-shaped profile. For sufficiently small volume, the FCM and Stokes solutions attain a weak Young-Laplace equilibrium profile, the approach to which is described by an asymptotic analysis generalising that of Kalliadasis & Chang (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 261, 1994, pp. 135-168) for the LCM. For large volumes, the bifurcation curves for the FCM and Stokes model have a turning point so that the fully inverted state is never reached. For fixed flow rate, the LCM blows up at a critical angle that is well predicted by asymptotic analysis. The bifurcation curve for the FCM either has a turning point or else reaches a point at which the surface profile has an infinite slope singularity, indicating the onset of multi-valuedness. The latter is confirmed by the Stokes model, which can be continued to obtain overturning surface profiles. Overall, the thin-film models either provide an accurate prediction for dripping onset or else supply an upper bound on the critical inclination angle.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA46
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 10 Mar 2023


  • thin films


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