Axial developments of one-dimensional void fraction, bubble number density, interfacial area concentration, and Sauter mean diameter of adiabatic nitrogen-water bubbly flows in a 9-mm-diameter pipe were measured under a microgravity environment using an image-processing method. The interfacial area transport mechanism was determined based on visual observation. Marked bubble coalescence occurred when fast-moving bubbles near the channel center overtook and swept up slower-moving bubbles in the vicinity of the channel wall (velocity profile entrainment). Negligible bubble breakup was observed because of weak turbulence under tested flow conditions. Axial changes of measured interfacial area concentrations were compared with the interfacial area transport equation considering the bubble expansion and wake entrainment as observed under a normal gravity environment. The velocity profile entrainment effect under microgravity was likely to be comparable to the wake entrainment effect under normal gravity in the tested flow conditions. This apparently led to insignificant differences between measured interfacial area concentrations and those predicted by the interfacial area transport equation with the wake entrainment model under normal gravity. Possible bubble coalescence mechanisms would differ, however, between normal gravity and microgravity conditions.

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