An examination of trapped bubbles for viscous drag reduction on submerged surfaces

Kelly A. Stephani, David B. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Viscous drag reduction on a submerged surface can be obtained both in the limit of an unbroken gas film coating the solid and in the nanobubble or perhaps microbubble coating regime when an air layer is created with superhydrophobic coatings. We examine an intermediate bubble size regime with a trapped-bubble array (TBA) formed in a tap water environment using electrolysis to grow and maintain bubbles in thousands of millimeter-sized holes on a solid surface. We show that even though surface tension is sufficient to stabilize bubbles in a TBA against hydrostatic and shear forces beneath a turbulent boundary layer, no drag reduction is obtained. Drag measurements were acquired over Reynolds numbers based on plate length ranging from 7.2 × 104 < ReL < 3.1 × 105 using either a force balance for plates mounted in a vertical orientation, or by performing a momentum integral balance using a wake survey for a flat plate mounted in either vertical or horizontal orientation. In that the drag forces were small, emphasis was placed on minimizing experimental uncertainty. For comparison, the flow over a flat plate covered on one side by a large uninterrupted gas film was examined and found to produce large drag reductions of up to 32%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413031-413039
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Fluids Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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