The Heads and Tails of Buoyant Autocatalytic Balls

The Heads and Tails
of Buoyant Autocatalytic Balls

Chaos, 22, 037110 (2012).

Michael C. Rogers [1] and Stephen W. Morris [2]

[1] Department of Physics, McGill University, 3600 rue University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2T8.
[2] Department of Physics, University of Toronto, 60 St. George St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1A7.

Buoyancy produced by autocatalytic reaction fronts can produce fluid flows that advect the front position, giving rise to interesting feedback between chemical and hydrodynamic effects. In a large diameter, extended cylinder that is relatively free of boundary constraints, localized initiation of an iodate-arsenous acid (IAA) reaction front on the bottom boundary generates a rising autocatalytic plume. Such plumes have several differences from their non-reactive counterparts. Using numerical simulation, we have found that if reaction is initiated using a spherical ball of product solution well above the bottom boundary, the subsequent flow can evolve much like an autocatalytic plume: the ball develops a reacting head and tail that is akin to the head and conduit of an autocatalytic plume, except that the tail is disconnected from the boundary. In the limit of large initial autocatalytic balls, however, growth of a reacting tail is suppressed and the resemblance to plumes disappears. Conversely, very small balls of product solution fail to initiate sustained fronts and eventually disappear.


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