Active Transport in Chaotic Rayleigh-Bénard Convection

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Virginia Tech

The transport of a species in complex flow fields is an important phenomenon related to many areas in science and engineering. There has been significant progress theoretically and experimentally in understanding active transport in steady, periodic flows such as a chain of vortices but many open questions remain for transport in complex and chaotic flows. This thesis investigates the active transport in a three-dimensional, time-dependent flow field characterized by a spatiotemporally chaotic state of Rayleigh-Be?nard convection. A nonlinear Fischer-Kolmogorov-Petrovskii-Piskunov reaction is selected to study the transport within these flows. A highly efficient, parallel spectral element approach is employed to solve the Boussinesq and the reaction-advection-diffusion equations in a spatially-extended cylindrical domain with experimentally relevant boundary conditions. The transport is quantified using statistics of spreading and in terms of active transport characteristics like front speed and geometry and are compared with those results for transport in steady flows found in the literature. The results of the simulations indicate an anomalous diffusion process with a power law 2 < ? < 5/2 a result that deviates from other superdiffusive processes in simpler flows, and reveals that the presence of spiral defect chaos induces strongly anomalous transport. Additionally, transport was found to most likely occur in a direction perpendicular to a convection roll in the flow field. The presence of the spiral defect chaos state of the fluid convection is found to enhance the front perimeter by t^3/2 and by a perimeter enhancement ratio r(p) = 2.3.

Transport, Rayleigh-Bénard convection, Spatiotemporal chaos