Surface waves are observed in many situations including natural and engineering applications. Experiments conducted at the Gas Turbine and Transmissions Research Centre (G2TRC) used high speed imaging to observe multiscale wave structures close to an aeroengine ball bearing in a test rig. The dynamic behavior and scale of the waves indicate that these are shear-driven although highly influenced by gravity at low shaft speed.
To understand the interactions between gas and liquid phases including momentum and mass transfers, characterization of the observed waves and ligaments was undertaken. Waves were studied at surfaces close to the ball bearing and ligaments were assessed near the cage. Characterization was in terms of frequency and wavelength as functions of speed, flow-rate, bearing axial load and gravity. The assessments confirmed the existence of gravity-capillary waves and capillary waves.
Gravity-capillary waves were measured to have a longer mean wavelength on the co-current side of the bearing (gravity and shear acting together) compared to the counter-current side (gravity and shear opposing). Using a published definition of critical wavelength (λcrit), measured wavelengths at 3,000 rpm were 2.56λcrit on the co-current side compared to 1.86λcrit at the countercurrent location. As shaft speed increases, wavelength reduces with transition to capillary waves occurring at around 0.83λcrit. At shaft speeds beyond 5000 rpm, capillary waves were fully visible and the wavelength was obtained as 0.435λcrit. Flow-rate and load did not significantly influence wavelength.
Wave frequency was found to be proportional to shaft speed. The gravity-capillary waves had frequencies within the range 13–25 Hz while capillary waves exhibited a frequency well beyond 100 Hz. The frequencies are highly fluctuating with no effect of load and flow rate observed.
Ligaments were characterized using Weber number and Stability number. The number of ligaments increased with shaft speed. A correlation for ligament number based on operating conditions is proposed.