The effect of a crosslinking chemical reaction on pattern formation in viscous fingering of miscible fluids in a Hele-Shaw cell

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Viscous fingering can occur in fluid motion whenever a high mobility fluid displaces a low mobility fluid in a Darcy type flow. When the mobility difference is primarily attributable to viscosity (e.g., flow between the two horizontal plates of a Hele-Shaw cell), viscous fingering (VF) occurs, which is sometimes termed the Saffman-Taylor instability. Alternatively, in the presence of differences in density in a gravity field, buoyancy-driven convection can occur. These instabilities have been studied for decades, in part because of their many applications in pollutant dispersal, ocean currents, enhanced petroleum recovery, and so on. More recent interest has emerged regarding the effects of chemical reactions on fingering instabilities. As chemical reactions change the key flow parameters (densities, viscosities, and concentrations), they may have either a destabilizing or stabilizing effect on the flow. Hence, new flow patterns can emerge; moreover, one can then hope to gain some control over flow instabilities through reaction rates, flow rates, and reaction products. We report effects of chemical reactions on VF in a Hele-Shaw cell for a reactive step-growth cross-linking polymerization system. The cross-linked reaction product results in a non-monotonic viscosity profile at the interface, which affects flow stability. Furthermore, threedimensional internal flows influence the long-term pattern that results.

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