Numerical solutions for thin film flow down the outside and inside of a vertical cylinder

Lisa Cheree Mayo, Scott McCue, Timothy Moroney


We consider a model for thin film flow down the outside and inside of a vertical cylinder. Our focus is the effect the curvature of the cylinder has on the gravity driven instability of the advancing contact line and to simulate the resulting fingering patterns that form due to this instability. The governing partial differential equation is fourth order with a nonlinear degenerate diffusion term that represents the stabilising effect of surface tension. We present numerical solutions obtained by implementing an efficient alternating direction implicit scheme. When compared to the problem of flow down a vertical plane, we find that increasing substrate curvature tends to increase the fingering instability for flow down the outside of the cylinder, whereas flow down the inside of the cylinder substrate curvature has the opposite effect. Further, we demonstrate the existence of nontrivial travelling wave solutions which describe fingering patterns that propagate down the inside of a cylinder at constant speed without changing form. These solutions are perfectly analogous to those found previously for thin film flow down an inclined plane.

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thin film flow; contact line instability; viscous fingering; pattern formation

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