, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 287-300
Date: 16 Jul 2010

When MHD-based microfluidics is equivalent to pressure-driven flow

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Magneto-hydrodynamics (MHD) provides a convenient, programmable means for propelling liquids and controlling fluid flow in microfluidic devices without a need for mechanical pumps and valves. When the magnetic field is uniform and the electric field in the electrolyte solution is confined to a plane that is perpendicular to the direction of the magnetic field, the Lorentz body force is irrotational and one can define a “Lorentz” potential. Since the MHD-induced flow field under these circumstances is identical to that of pressure-driven flow, one can utilize the large available body of knowledge about pressure-driven flows to predict MHD flows and infer MHD flow patterns. In this note, we prove the equivalence between MHD flows and pressure-driven flows under certain conditions other than flow in straight conduits with rectangular cross sections. We determine the velocity profile and the efficiency of MHD pumps, accounting for current transport in the electrolyte solutions. Then, we demonstrate how data available for pressure-driven flow can be utilized to study various MHD flows, in particular, in a conduit patterned with pillars such as may be useful for liquid chromatography and chemical reactors. In addition, we examine the effect of interior obstacles on the electric current flow in the conduit and show the existence of a particular pillar geometry that maximizes the current.