Neil Balmforth


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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Theoretical and numerical study of free-surface flow of viscoplastic fluids : 2D dambreaks, axisymmetrical slumps and surges down an inclined slope (2019)

Abstract: The dynamics of free surface flow of yield stress fluid under gravity has been an open problem, both in theory and in computation. The contribution of this thesis comes in three parts. First, we report the results of computations for two dimensional dambreaks of viscoplastic fluid, focusing on the phenomenology of the collapse, the mode of initial failure, and the final shape of the slump. The volume-of-fluid method (VOF) is used to evolve the surface of the viscoplastic fluid, and its rheology is captured by either regularizing the viscosity or using an augmented-Lagrangian scheme. The interface is tracked by the Piecewise-Linear-Interface-Calculation (PLIC) scheme, modified in order to avoid resolution issues associated with the over-ridden finger of ambient fluid that results from the no slip condition and the resulting inability to move the contact line. We establish that the regularized and augmented-Lagrangian methods yield comparable results. The numerical results are compared with asymptotic theories valid for relatively shallow or vertically slender flow, with a series of previously reported experiments, and with predictions based on plasticity theory. Second, we report computations of the axisymmetric slump of viscoplastic fluid, with the PLIC scheme improved for mass conservation. The critical yield stress for failure is computed and bounded analytically using plasticity methods. The simulations are compared with experiments either taken from existing literature or performed using Carbopol. The comparison is satisfying for lower yield stresses; discrepancies for larger yield stresses suggest that the mechanism of release may affect the experiments. Finally, we report asymptotic analyses and numerical computations for surges of viscoplastic fluid down an incline with low inertia. The asymptotic theory applies for relatively shallow gravity currents. The anatomy of the surge consists of an upstream region that converges to a uniform sheet flow, and over which a truly rigid plug sheaths the surge. The plug breaks further downstream due to the build up of the extensional stress acting upon it, leaving instead a weakly yielded superficial layer, or pseudo-plug. Finally, the surge ends in a steep flow front that lies beyond the validity of shallow asymptotics.

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Mitigating impacts of temperature-oxygen squeeze in a mesotrophic-eutrophic lake: Wood Lake, BC, Canada (2017)

No abstract available.

Continuum limits of granular systems (2014)

Despite a century of study, the macroscopic behaviour of quasistatic granular materials remains poorly understood. In particular, we lack a fundamental system of continuum equations, comparable to the Navier-Stokes equations for a Newtonian fluid. In this thesis, we derive continuum models for two-dimensional granular materials directly from the grain scale, using tools of discrete calculus, which we develop.To make this objective precise, we pose the canonical isostatic problem: a marginally stable granular material in the plane has 4 components of the stress tensor σ, but only 3 continuum equations in Newton’s laws ∇ ‧σ = 0 and σ = σT. At isostaticity, there is a missing stress-geometry equation, arising from Newton’s laws at the grain scale, which is not present in their conventional continuum form.We first show that a discrete potential ψ can be defined such that the stress tensor is written as σ = ∇ × ∇ × ψ, where the derivatives are given an exact meaning at the grain scale, and converge to their continuum counterpart in an appropriate limit. The introduction of ψ allows us to understand how force and torque balance couple neighbouring grains, and thus to understand where the stress-geometry equation is hidden.Using this formulation, we derive the missing stress-geometry equation ∆(F^ : ∇∇ψ) = 0, introducing a fabric tensor F^ which characterizes the geometry. We show that the equation imposes granularity in a literal sense, and that on a homo- geneous fabric, the equation reduces to a particular form of anisotropic elasticity.We then discuss the deformation of rigid granular materials, and derive the mean-field phase diagram for quasistatic flow. We find that isostatic states are fluid states, existing between solid and gaseous phases. The appearance of iso- staticity is linked to the saturation of steric exclusion and Coulomb inequalities.Finally, we present a model for the fluctuations of contact forces using tools of statistical mechanics. We find that force chains, the filamentary networks of con- tact forces ubiquitously observed in experiments, arise from an entropic instability which favours localization of contact forces.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Locomotion over a Washboard (2015)

No abstract available.

The propagation of the gravity current of Bingham fluid : a numerical investigation (2015)

We have studied the propagation of 2D unit block of viscoplastic fluid of Bingham type over a horizontal plane, underneath another Newtonian fluid. We numerically simulate the dynamics of a two-layer fluid in a rectangle domain, using the volume-of-fluid method to deal with the evolution of the interface, and regularization scheme of the constitutive law, which replaces unyielded plugs with very viscous flow. We explore the final shape of the flow for varying yield stress, comparing the numerical results with the predictions of the asymptotic theory, a plasticity model based on slipline theory, and other past results.Numerical difficulties with the moving contact lines are encountered during the numerical simulation. A slip boundary condition is used to address this issue, the validity of which should be further investigated.

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Parametric subharmonic instability and the beta-effect (2010)

No abstract available.


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