Microstructural effects in aqueous foam fracture

Peter S. Stewart*, Stephen H. Davis, Sascha Hilgenfeldt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We examine the fracture of a quasi-two-dimensional surfactant-laden aqueous foam under an applied driving pressure, using a network modelling approach developed for metallic foams by Stewart & Davis (J. Rheol., vol. 56, 2012, p. 543). In agreement with experiments, we observe two distinct mechanisms of failure analogous to those observed in a crystalline solid: a slow ductile mode when the driving pressure is applied slowly, where the void propagates as bubbles interchange neighbours through the T1 process; and a rapid brittle mode for faster application of pressures, where the void advances by successive rupture of liquid films driven by Rayleigh-Taylor instability. The simulations allow detailed insight into the mechanics of the fracturing medium and the role of its microstructure. In particular, we examine the stress distribution around the crack tip and investigate how brittle fracture localizes into a single line of breakages. We also confirm that pre-existing microstructural defects can alter the course of fracture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-461
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Nov 23 2015


  • fingering instability
  • foams
  • interfacial flows (free surface)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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