Galinstan liquid metal breakup and droplet formation in a shock-induced cross-flow

Yi Chen, Justin L. Wagner, Paul A. Farias, Edward P. DeMauro, Daniel R. Guildenbecher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Liquid metal breakup processes are important for understanding a variety of physical phenomena including metal powder formation, thermal spray coatings, fragmentation in explosive detonations and metalized propellant combustion. Since the breakup behaviors of liquid metals are not well studied, we experimentally investigate the roles of higher density and fast elastic surface oxide formation on breakup morphology and droplet characteristics. This work compares the column breakup of water with Galinstan, a room-temperature eutectic liquid metal alloy of gallium, indium and tin. A shock tube is used to generate a step change in convective velocity and back-lit imaging is used to classify morphologies for Weber numbers up to 250. Digital in-line holography (DIH) is then used to quantitatively capture droplet size, velocity and three-dimensional position information. Differences in geometry between canonical spherical drops and the liquid columns utilized in this paper are likely responsible for observations of earlier transition Weber numbers and uni-modal droplet volume distributions. Scaling laws indicate that Galinstan and water share similar droplet size-velocity trends and root-normal volume probability distributions. However, measurements indicate that Galinstan breakup occurs earlier in non-dimensional time and produces more non-spherical droplets due to fast oxide formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-163
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Multiphase Flow
StatePublished - Sep 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


  • Digital in-line holography
  • Droplet quantification
  • Galinstan
  • Liquid breakup
  • Liquid metal
  • Shock-induced cross-flow


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