Ultrasonic liquid metal processing: The essential role of cavitation bubbles in controlling acoustic streaming.


Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST), Brunel University London, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, United Kingdom; Computational Science and Engineering Group (CSEG), Department of Mathematics, University of Greenwich, London SE10 9LS, United Kingdom. Electronic address: [Email]


The acoustic streaming behaviour below an ultrasonic sonotrode in water was predicted by numerical simulation and validated by experimental studies. The flow was calculated by solving the transient Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes equations with a source term representing ultrasonic excitation implemented from the predictions of a nonlinear acoustic model. Comparisons with the measured flow field from Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) water experiments revealed good agreement in both velocity magnitude and direction at two power settings, supporting the validity of the model for acoustic streaming in the presence of cavitating bubbles. Turbulent features measured by PIV were also recovered by the model. The model was then applied to the technologically important area of ultrasonic treatment of liquid aluminium, to achieve the prediction of acoustic streaming for the very first time that accounts for nonlinear pressure propagation in the presence of acoustic cavitation in the melt. Simulations show a strong dependence of the acoustic streaming flow direction on the cavitating bubble volume fraction, reflecting PIV observations. This has implications for the technological use of ultrasound in liquid metal processing.


Acoustic cavitation,Acoustic streaming,Aluminium,Modelling,Nonlinear acoustics,Particle image velocimetry,