Review Article

Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 371-422

First online:

On the experimental investigation on primary atomization of liquid streams

  • Christophe DumouchelAffiliated withCNRS UMR 6614–CORIA, Université de Rouen Email author 

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The production of a liquid spray can be summarized as the succession of the following three steps; the liquid flow ejection, the primary breakup mechanism and the secondary breakup mechanism. The intermediate step—the primary breakup mechanism—covers the early liquid flow deformation down to the production of the first isolated liquid fragments. This step is very important and requires to be fully understood since it constitutes the link between the flow issuing from the atomizer and the final spray. This paper reviews the experimental investigations dedicated to this early atomization step. Several situations are considered: cylindrical liquid jets, flat liquid sheets, air-assisted cylindrical liquid jets and air-assisted flat liquid sheets. Each fluid stream adopts several atomization regimes according to the operating conditions. These regimes as well as the significant parameters they depend on are listed. The main instability mechanisms, which control primary breakup processes, are rather well described. This review points out the internal geometrical nozzle characteristics and internal flow details that influence the atomization mechanisms. The contributions of these characteristics, which require further investigations to be fully identified and quantified, are believed to be the main reason of experimental discrepancies and explain a lack of universal primary breakup regime categorizations.