From electrodiffusion theory to the electrohydrodynamics of leaky dielectrics through the weak electrolyte limit

Yoichiro Mori, Y. N. Young

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26 Scopus citations


The Taylor-Melcher (TM) model is the standard model for describing the dynamics of poorly conducting leaky dielectric fluids under an electric field. The TM model treats the fluids as ohmic conductors, without modelling the underlying ion dynamics. On the other hand, electrodiffusion models, which have been successful in describing electrokinetic phenomena, incorporate ionic concentration dynamics. Mathematical reconciliation of the electrodiffusion picture and the TM model has been a major issue for electrohydrodynamic theory. Here, we derive the TM model from an electrodiffusion model in which we explicitly model the electrochemistry of ion dissociation. We introduce salt dissociation reaction terms in the bulk electrodiffusion equations and take the limit in which the salt dissociation is weak; the assumption of weak dissociation corresponds to the fact that the TM model describes poor conductors. Together with the assumption that the Debye length is small, we derive the TM model with or without the surface charge convection term depending upon the scaling of relevant dimensionless parameters. An important quantity that emerges is the Galvani potential (GP), the jump in voltage across the liquid-liquid interface between the two leaky dielectric media; the GP arises as a natural consequence of the interfacial boundary conditions for the ionic concentrations, and is absent under certain parametric conditions. When the GP is absent, we recover the TM model. Our analysis also reveals the structure of the Debye layer at the liquid-liquid interface, which suggests how interfacial singularities may arise under strong imposed electric fields. In the presence of a non-zero GP, our model predicts that the liquid droplet will drift under an imposed electric field, the velocity of which is computed explicitly to leading order.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-130
Number of pages64
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Nov 25 2018

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© 2018 Cambridge University Press.


  • drops and bubbles
  • electrohydrodynamic effects


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