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Fluids on Structured Surfaces and in Porous Structures

Steinbeis experts develop simulation software

Wetting and fluid spread on structured surfaces and in cellular porous media play a central role in a wide spectrum of applications used for a variety of different materials. A new software package developed at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences called Pace3D makes it possible to simulate the angle of contact of liquid droplets on complex surfaces. Computer simulations using Pace3D are now available though the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Material Simulation and Process Optimization.

There are numerous areas where fluid spread is encountered, ranging from the lotus effect on surfaces with rough nanostructures or microstructures to fluids penetrating construction materials as a precursor of corrosion and condensation, or evaporation on textile fibers when extracting water.

The models used at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences for Pace3D are based on the principles of energy minimization and they are powerful enough to capture the 3D topology and spreading properties of several immiscible fluids, even taking the properties of specific substances into account. The physical properties of fluids and supporting structures form part of the modeling and make it possible to analyze the processes behind the angle of contact on a variety of treated surfaces.

The simulations allow researchers to investigate how wetting is influenced by surface properties, the geometric alignment of structures, and components. They can also systematically examine capillary forces. As part of the funding project with the partners in industry, the experts from Karlsruhe have successfully used Pace3D to predict condensation and evaporation rates, to determine anisotropic permeability properties, to ascertain volumes of liquid, and to determine liquid advance in channels, cracks, and structures with pores.