The method of drop coalescence is used for determining the viscosity of highly viscous undercooled liquids. Low gravity environment is necessary in order to allow for examining large volumes affording much higher accuracy for the viscosity calculations than possible for smaller volumes available under 1 – g conditions. The drop coalescence method is preferred over the drop oscillation technique since the latter method can only be applied for liquids with vanishingly small viscosities. The technique developed relies on both the highly accurate solution of the Navier-Stokes equations as well as on data from experiments conducted in near zero gravity environment. Results are presented for method validation experiments recently performed on board the NASA/KC-135 aircraft. While the numerical solution was produced using the Boundary Element Method. In these tests the viscosity of a highly viscous liquid, glycerine at room temperature, was determined using the liquid coalescence method. The results from these experiments will be discussed.
The objective of this ground based study is to test the hypothesis that shear thinning (the non-Newtonian response of viscosity to shear rate) is a viable mechanism to explain the observation of enhanced glass formation in numerous low-g experiments. In 1-g, fluid motion results from buoyancy forces and surface tension driven convection. This fluid flow will introduce shear in undercooled liquids in 1-g. In low-g it is known that fluid flows are greatly reduced so that the shear rate in fluids can be extremely low. It is believed that some fluids may have weak structure in the absence of flow. Very small shear rates could cause this structure to collapse in response to shear resulting in a lowering of the viscosity of the fluid. The hypothesis of this research is that: Shear thinning in undercooled liquids decreases the viscosity, increasing the rate of nucleation and crystallization of glass forming melts. Shear in the melt can be reduced in low-g, thus enhancing undercooling and glass formation. The viscosity of a model glass (lithium di-silicate, L2S) often used for crystallization studies has been measured at very low shear rates using a dynamic mechanical thermal analyzer. Our results are consistent with increasing viscosity with a lowering of shear rates. The viscosity of L2S may vary as much as an order of magnitude depending on the shear rate in the temperature region of maximum nucleation and crystal growth. Classical equations for nucleation and crystal growth rates, are inversely related to the viscosity and viscosity to the third power respectively. An order of magnitude variation in viscosity (with shear) at a given temperature would have dramatic effects on glass crystallization Crystallization studies with the heavy metal fluoride glass ZBLAN (ZrF2-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3-NaF) to examine the effect of shear on crystallization are being initiated. Samples are to be melted and quenched under quiescent conditions at different shear rates to determine the effect on crystallization. The results from this study are expected to advance the current scientific understanding of glass formation in low-g and glass crystallization under glass molding conditions and will improve the scientific understanding of technological processes such as fiber pulling, bulk amorphous alloys, and glass fabrication processes.