Multiscale Modeling of Membrane Rearrangement, Drainage, and Rupture in Evolving Foams

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Science  10 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6133, pp. 720-724
DOI: 10.1126/science.1230623

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Simulating Foam Formation

Foams are easily made whether in the kitchen sink in the form of soap bubbles or a frothy head on the top of a quickly poured beer. Saye and Sethian (p. 720; see the Perspective by Weaire) describe the mathematical simulation of foam dynamics by decomposing the process into rearrangement, drainage, and rupture phases that are then linked by coupling the flux boundary conditions.


Modeling the physics of foams and foamlike materials, such as soapy froths, fire retardants, and lightweight crash-absorbent structures, presents challenges, because of the vastly different time and space scales involved. By separating and coupling these disparate scales, we have designed a multiscale framework to model dry foam dynamics. This leads to a predictive and flexible computational methodology linking, with a few simplifying assumptions, foam drainage, rupture, and topological rearrangement, to coupled interface-fluid motion under surface tension, gravity, and incompressible fluid dynamics. Our computed results match theoretical analyses and experimentally observed physical effects, including thin-film drainage and interference, and are used to study bubble rupture cascades and macroscopic rearrangement. The developed multiscale model allows quantitative computation of complex foam evolution phenomena.

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