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Shaping of solids under natural convection

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Fluids sculpt many of the shapes we see in the world around us. We present a new mathematical model describing the shape evolution of a body that dissolves or melts under gravitationally stable buoyancy-driven convection, driven by thermal or solutal transfer at the solid-fluid interface. For high Schmidt number, the system is reduced to a single integro-differential equation for the shape evolution. Focusing on the particular case of a cone, we derive complete predictions for the underlying self-similar shapes, intrinsic scales and descent rates. We will present the results of new laboratory experiments, which show an excellent match to the theory. By analysing all initial power-law shapes, we uncover a surprising result that the tips of melting or dissolving bodies can either sharpen or blunt with time subject to a critical condition.

This talk is part of the Seminars for the Institute for Energy and Environmental Flows (formerly BP Institute) series.

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