Vortex dynamics and forces in the laminar wakes of bluff bodies

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Virginia Tech


Coherent vortex-dominated structures in the wake are ubiquitous in natural and engineered flows. The well-known 'von Karman street', in which two rows of counter-rotating vortices develop on the leeward side of a solid body immersed in a fluid, is only one such vortex-based structure in the wake. Recent work on fluid-structure interaction has shown that several other types of vortex structures can arise in natural and engineered systems. The production of these vortex structures downstream often mark the onset of qualitative and/or quantitative changes in the forces exerted on the vortex-shedding body upstream, and can be used as diagnostic tools for engineering structures undergoing Vortex-Induced Vibrations.

This dissertation presents a two-part study of vortex dynamics in the laminar wakes of bluff bodies. The first part consists of a series of experiments on a transversely oscillating circular cylinder in a uniform flow field at Re≲250. These experiments were carried out in a gravity-driven soap film channel, which provides a two-dimensional laboratory' for hydrodynamics experiments under certain conditions. In these experiments, we generated a map' of the vortex patterns that arise in the wake as a function of the (nondimensional) frequency and amplitude of the cylinder's motion. Our results show that the '2P mode' of vortex shedding can robustly occur in the two-dimensional wake of an oscillating cylinder, contrary to what has been reported in the literature. By making small changes to the meniscus region of the soap film, we have explored possible mechanisms that can explain why the `P+S mode' of vortex shedding is usually reported to be more prevalent than the '2P mode' at low Reynolds number, when the flow is two-dimensional. In doing so, we have found that small modifications to the cylinder on the order of the boundary layer thickness can make a significant difference to the vortex shedding process.

In the second part, we develop a generalized form of von Karman's drag law for N-vortex streets: periodic wakes in which the vortices are arranged in regularly-repeating patterns with N>2 vortices per period. The original form of von Karman's drag law then reduces to a special case of this generalized form, which has the potential to model several kinds of vortex-dominated wakes that have been reported in the literature. In this work, we show how this generalized drag law can be used to model '2P' and 'P+S' wakes in both drag' and thrust' form. As a contribution to the study of three-dimensional wakes, we also studied a periodic array of vortex rings, which are often used to represent the wakes of marine organisms like jellyfish and squid. We described the problem mathematically using a newly-developed Green's function, and comprehensively examine the fluid physics of such an array of vortex rings as a function of the non-dimensional parameters that govern this phenomenon. In the process, we have discovered a new type of topology that arises in this flow, which may have connections with the `optimal vortex formation length' of vortex rings.



Fluid mechanics, Vortex dynamics, Fluid-structure interaction, Vortex-induced vibrations