Beris A.N., Tsamopoulos J.A., Armstrong R.C., Brown R.A.
A solid sphere falling through a Bingham plastic moves in a small envelope of fluid with shape that depends on the yield stress. A finite-element/Newton method is presented for solving the free-boundary problem composed of the velocity and pressure fields and the yield surfaces for creeping flow. Besides the outer surface, solid occurs as caps at the front and back of the sphere because of the stagnation points in the flow. The accuracy of solutions is ascertained by mesh refinement and by calculation of the integrals corresponding to the maximum and minimum variational principles for the problem. Large differences from the Newtonian values in the flow pattern around the sphere and in the drag coefficient are predicted, depending on the dimensionless value of the critical yield stress Ygbelow which the material acts as a solid. The computed flow fields differ appreciably from Stokes’ solution. The sphere will fall only when Yg is below 0.143. For yield stresses near this value, a plastic boundary layer forms next to the sphere. Boundary-layer scalings give the correct forms of the dependence of the drag coefficient and mass-transfer coefficient on yield stress for values near the critical one. The Stokes limit of zero yield stress is singular in the sense that for any small value of Ygthere is a region of the flow away from the sphere where the plastic portion of the viscosity is at least as important as the Newtonian part. Calculations for the approach of the flow field to the Stokes result are in good agreement with the scalings derived from the matched asymptotic expansion valid in this limit. © 1985, Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.