Experiments in Fluids

, 55:1652 | Cite as

A study of gas bubbles in liquid mercury in a vertical Hele-Shaw cell

  • B. Klaasen
  • F. Verhaeghe
  • B. Blanpain
  • J. Fransaer
Research Article


High-quality observations of mesoscopic gas bubbles in liquid metal are vital for a further development of pyrometallurgical gas injection reactors. However, the opacity of metals enforces the use of indirect imaging techniques with limited temporal or spatial resolution. In addition, accurate interface tracking requires tomography which further complicates the design of a high-temperature experimental setup. In this paper, an alternative approach is suggested that circumvents these two main restrictions. By injecting gas in a thin layer of liquid metal entrapped between two flat and closely spaced plates, bubbles in a Hele-Shaw flow regime are generated. The resulting quasi-2D multiphase flow phenomena can be fully captured from a single point of view and, when using a non-wetted transparent plate material, the bubbles can be observed directly. The feasibility of this approach is demonstrated by observations on buoyancy-driven nitrogen bubbles in liquid mercury in a vertical Hele-Shaw cell. By using a moving high-speed camera to make continuous close up recordings of individual bubbles, the position and geometry of these bubbles are quantified with a high resolution along their entire path. After a thorough evaluation of the experimental accuracy, this information is used for a detailed analysis of the bubble expansion along the path. While the observed bubble growth is mainly caused by the hydrostatic pressure gradient, a careful assessment of the volume variations for smaller bubbles shows that an accurate bubble description should account for significant dynamic pressure variations that seem to be largely regime dependent.


Contact Angle Liquid Metal Bubble Size Small Bubble Bubbly Flow 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders and by Umicore Group Research and Development (IWT Baekeland mandate 090271).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Klaasen
    • 1
  • F. Verhaeghe
    • 1
    • 3
  • B. Blanpain
    • 1
  • J. Fransaer
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Group for High Temperature Processes and Industrial Ecology, Department of Metallurgy and Materials EngineeringKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Research Group for Materials with Novel Functionality, Department of Metallurgy and Materials EngineeringKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Umicore Group Research & DevelopmentOlenBelgium

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