Comparison of Lubrication Approximation and Navier-Stokes Solutions for Dam-Break Flows in Thin Films
The levelling of a thin liquid film has been analysed experimentally, theoretically, and numerically. The purpose of this contribution is to compare solutions from two different finite element models: one based on the 2D Navier-Stokes equations, and the other based on a simplification thereof, known as the lubrication approximation. The latter is significantly less computationally expensive, hence it is desirable to know in which parameter range this approximation is valid. As a benchmark problem, we consider the classical dam-break problem. This paper establishes the validity window of the lubrication approximation in terms of the Reynolds number, Froude number, and film aspect ratio. To validate the solutions produced by the solver, experimental data has been obtained for the levelling of silicone oil. The free surface velocity measured experimentally is compared to that produced by the two numerical models and found to have relatively good agreement. The lubrication approximation is then compared with the Navier-Stokes model for a range of Reynolds and Froude numbers, and for a range of film aspect ratios. The results show that the lubrication approximation is remarkably robust and particularly accurate for low Reynolds and Froude numbers, for which inertial effects are negligible. Using fixed Reynolds and Froude numbers of 100 and 0.01 respectively, the lubrication approximation is accurate for aspect ratios up to 1%.