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CFD simulation of a small bubble motion in 3D flow domain: effect of liquid density, viscosity and surface tension

Jakub Crha, Pavlína Basařová, and Marek C. Ruzicka

Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, Czech Republic



Received: 9 January 2023  Accepted: 24 February 2023


The motion of spherical and slightly deformed bubbles rising rectilinearly in a stagnant liquid was numerically simulated in a fully three-dimensional domain using the CFD solver COMSOL Multiphysics. The interface was tracked by the built-in conservative Level set method on a fixed numerical grid. The purpose of this work was to study the single bubble motion in three industrially used liquids that differ significantly in surface tension, density, and viscosity. The motion of bubbles with diameters up to 1.6 mm was also studied experimentally using a high-speed camera. The data obtained together with the results of theoretical models for bubble motion were used for the validation of the simulation data. Using a 3D domain, very good agreement was obtained in both bubble shape deformations and bubble terminal velocity. The best results were achieved for propanol with low surface tension and low viscosity. In the case of high surface tension and low viscosity liquid (water), both the bubble deformation and the bubble velocity were slightly underestimated. In the case of glycerol (high surface tension and viscosity), the negligible bubble deformation is correctly calculated, but the velocity is again slightly underestimated.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Single rising bubble; Level set method; Conservative; Surface tension; Two-phase flow

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-023-02758-8


Chemical Papers 77 (7) 3979–3992 (2023)

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