Flow dynamics in eccentrically rotating flasks used for dispersant effectiveness testing

Vikram J. Kaku, Michel C. Boufadel, Albert D. Venosa, James Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The evaluation of dispersant effectiveness used for oil spills is commonly done using tests conducted in laboratory flasks. We used a Hot Wire Anemometer (HWA) to characterize mixing dynamics in the Swirling Flask (SF) and the Baffled Flask (BF), the latter is being considered by the EPA to replace the prior to test dispersant effectiveness in the laboratory. Five rotation speeds of the orbital shaker carrying the flasks were considered, Ω = 50, 100, 150, 175 and 200 rpm. The radial and azimuthal water speeds were measured for each Ω. It was found that the flow in the SF is, in general, two-dimensional changing from horizontal at low Ω to axi-symmetric at high Ω. The flow in the BF appeared to be three-dimensional at all rotation speeds. This indicates that the BF is more suitable for representing the (inherently) 3-D flow at sea. In the SF, the speeds and energy dissipation rates ε increased gradually as the rotation speed increased. Those in the BF increased sharply at rotation speeds greater than 150 rpm. At 200 rpm, the Kolmogorov scale (i.e., size of smallest eddies) was about 250 and 50 μm in the SF and BF, respectively. Noting that the observed droplet sizes of dispersed oils range from 50 to 400 μm (hence most of it is less than 250 μm), one concludes that the mixing in the SF (even at 200 rpm) is not representative of the vigorous mixing occurring at sea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-406
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironmental Fluid Mechanics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


  • Anemometers
  • Data acquisition
  • Eccentric
  • Energy dissipation
  • Oil spills
  • Rotating flasks
  • Time series analysis
  • Turbulence
  • Velocity gradient


Dive into the research topics of 'Flow dynamics in eccentrically rotating flasks used for dispersant effectiveness testing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this