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Stokes flow in ellipsoidal geometry

Particle-in-cell models for Stokes flow through a relatively homogeneous swarm of particles are of substantial practical interest, because they provide a relatively simple platform for the analytical or semianalytical solution of heat and mass transport problems. Despite the fact that many practical applications involve relatively small particles (inorganic, organic, biological) with axisymmetric shapes, the general consideration consists of rigid particles of arbitrary shape. The present work is concerned with some interesting aspects of the theoretical analysis of creeping flow in ellipsoidal, hence nonaxisymmetric domains. More specifically, the low Reynolds number flow of a swarm of ellipsoidal particles in an otherwise quiescent Newtonian fluid, that move with constant uniform velocity in an arbitrary direction and rotate with an arbitrary constant angular velocity, is analyzed with an ellipsoid-in-cell model. The solid internal ellipsoid represents a particle of the swarm. The external ellipsoid contains the ellipsoidal particle and the amount of fluid required to match the fluid volume fraction of the swarm. The nonslip flow condition on the surface of the solid ellipsoid is supplemented by the boundary conditions on the external ellipsoidal surface which are similar to those of the sphere-in-cell model of Happel (self-sufficient in mechanical energy). This model requires zero normal velocity component and shear stress. The boundary value problem is solved with the aim of the potential representation theory. In particular, the Papkovich–Neuber complete differential representation of Stokes flow, valid for nonaxisymmetric geometries, is considered here, which provides the velocity and total pressure fields in terms of harmonic ellipsoidal eigenfunctions. The flexibility of the particular representation is demonstrated by imposing some conditions, which made the calculations possible. It turns out that the velocity of first degree, which represents the leading term of the series, is sufficient for most engineering applications, so long as the aspect ratios of the ellipsoids remains within moderate bounds. Analytical expressions for the leading terms of the velocity, the total pressure, the angular velocity, and the stress tensor fields are obtained. Corresponding results for the prolate and the oblate spheroid, the needle and the disk, as well as for the sphere are recovered as degenerate cases. Novel relations concerning the ellipsoidal harmonics are included in the Appendix.

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