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Melt-blowing of viscoelastic jets in turbulent airflows: Stochastic modeling and simulation

: Wieland, M.; Arne, W.; Marheineke, N.; Wegener, R.


Applied mathematical modelling 76 (2019), S.558-577
ISSN: 0307-904X
Fraunhofer ITWM ()

In melt-blowing processes micro- and nanofibers are produced by the extrusion of polymeric jets into a directed, turbulent high-speed airflow. Up to now the physical mechanism for the drastic jet thinning has not been fully understood, since in the existing literature the numerically computed/predicted fiber thickness differs several orders of magnitude from those experimentally measured. Recent works suggest that this discrepancy might arise from the neglect of the turbulent aerodynamic fluctuations in the simulations. In this paper we confirm this suggestion numerically. Due to the complexity of the process, direct numerical simulations of the multiscale-multiphase problem are not possible. Hence, we develop a numerical framework for a growing fiber in turbulent air that makes the simulation of industrial setups feasible. For this purpose we employ an asymptotic viscoelastic model for the fiber. The turbulent effects are taken into account by a stochastic aerodynamic force model where the underlying velocity fluctuations are reconstructed from a turbulence description of the airflow. Our numerical results show the significance of the turbulence on the jet thinning and give fiber diameters of realistic order of magnitude.