Structure and Turbulence of the Three-Dimensional Boundary Layer Flow over a Hill

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Three-dimensional (3D) turbulent boundary layers (TBLs) are ubiquitous in most engineering applications, but most turbulence models used to simulate these flows are built on two-dimensional turbulence theory, limiting the accuracy of simulation results. To improve the accuracy of turbulence modeling capabilities, a better understanding of 3DTBL physics is required. This dissertation outlines the experimental investigation of the attached 3D TBL flow over the Benchmark Validation Experiments for RANS/LES Investigations (BeVERLI) Hill using laser Doppler velocimetry in the Virginia Tech Stability Wind Tunnel. The mean flow and turbulence behavior of the boundary layer are studied and compared with turbulence theories to identify the validity of these assumptions in the BeVERLI Hill flow.

It is shown that the pressure gradients and curvature of the hill have a significant effect on the turbulence behavior, including significant history effects at all stations due to the changing pressure gradient impact through the height of the boundary layer. Supplementing the experimental results with analysis from rapid distortion theory and simulations, it is shown that the stations lower on the hill are significantly affected by the non-linear history effects due to the varying upstream origins of the flow passing through those stations. Stations closer to the hill apex pass through a region of extremely strong favorable pressure gradient and hill constriction, resulting in behavior that matches qualitatively with the results from rapid distortion theory and provides insights into the physical mechanisms taking place in these regions of the flow. Despite the misalignment of the mean flow angle (γFGA) and turbulent shear stress angle (γSSA) throughout all of the profiles, the proposed 3D law of the wall of van den Berg (1975), which incorporates pressure gradient and inertial effects and relies on the assumption that γFGASSA, is able to predict the flow behavior at more mildly non-equilibrium stations. This suggests that models that currently rely on assumptions founded on the two-dimensional law of the wall could be improved by incorporating van den Berg's model instead. The total shear stress distribution at selected stations on the BeVERLI Hill are all significantly reduced below equilibrium two-dimensional (2D) levels, indicating that turbulence models built on this assumptions will not be able to accurately simulate the 3D turbulence behavior.



turbulence, turbulent boundary layer, bump, BeVERLI Hill, hill, CFD validation