Experimental Investigation of Turbulent Flows at Smooth and Rough Wall-Cylinder Junctions

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Virginia Tech


Junction flows originate from the interaction between a fluid moving over a wall with an obstacle mounted on the same surface. Understanding the physics of such flows is of great interest to engineers responsible for the design of systems consisting of wall-body junctions. From aerodynamics to turbomachinery and electronics to bridge hydraulics, a number of phenomena (drag, heat transfer, scouring) are driven by the behavior of the most prominent feature of junction flows: the horseshoe vortex system (HVS). Focusing on turbulent flows, the complex dynamics of the HVS is established through its unsteadiness and non-uniformity. The fundamentals of this dynamically-rich phenomenon have been described within the body of a rapidly-expanding literature. Nevertheless, important aspects remain inadequately understood and call for further scrutiny. This study emphasized three of them, by investigating the effects of: model scale, wall roughness, and bed geometry. High-resolution experiments were carried out using Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). Statistical analyses, vortex identification schemes, and Proper Orthogonal decomposition were employed to extract additional information from the large PIV datasets. The time-averaged topology of junction flows developing over a smooth and impermeable wall was independent of the flow Reynolds number, Re (parameter that expresses the effects of scale). On the contrary, time-resolved analysis revealed a trend of increasing vorticity, momentum, and eruptions of near-wall fluid with Re. New insights on the modal dynamics of the HVS were also documented in a modified flow mechanism. Wall roughness (modeled with a permeable layer of crushed stones) diffused turbulence and vorticity throughout the domain. This effect manifested with high levels of intermittency and spatial irregularity for the HVS. Energetic flow structures were also identified away from the typical footprint of the HVS. Finally, a novel implementation of PIV allowed for unique velocity measurements over an erodible bed. It was demonstrated that, during the initial stages of scouring, the downflow at the face of the obstacle becomes the dominant flow characteristic in the absence of the HVS. Notwithstanding modeling limitations, the physical insight contributed here could be used to enhance the design of systems with similar flow and geometrical characteristics.



Junction Flows, Turbulent Horseshoe Vortex, Reynolds Number and Roughness Effects, Bridge Scour, Particle Image Velocimetry