Detached eddy simulation of flow around two wall-mounted cubes in tandem

Joongcheol Paik, Fotis Sotiropoulos, Fernando Porté-Agel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


We investigate the performance of unsteady Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (URANS) computation and various versions of detached eddy simulation (DES) in resolving coherent structures in turbulent flow around two cubes mounted in tandem on a flat plate at Reynolds number (Re) of 22,000 and for a thin incoming boundary layer. Calculations are carried out using four different coherent structure resolving turbulence models: (1) URANS with the Spalart-Allmaras model; (2) the standard DES [Spalart, P.R., Jou, W.H., Strelets, M., Allmaras, S.R., 1997. Comments on the feasibility of LES for wings, and on a hybrid RANS/LES approach. In: Liu, C., Liu, Z., (Eds.), Advances in DNS/LES. Greyden Press, Columbus, OH]; (3) the Delayed DES (DDES); and (4) the DES with a low-Re modification (DES-LR) [Spalart, P., Deck, S., Shur, M., Squires, K., Strelets, M., Travin, A., 2006. A new version of detached eddy simulation, resistant to ambiguous grid densities. Theor. Comput. Fluid Dyn. 20 (3), 181-195]. The grid sensitivity of the computed solutions is examined by carrying out simulations on two successively refined grids. The computed results for all cases are compared with the experimental measurements of Martinuzzi and Havel [Martinuzzi, R., Havel, B., 2000. Turbulent flow around two interfering surface-mounted cubic obstacles in tandem arrangement. ASME J. Fluids Eng. 122, 24-31] for two different cube spacings. All turbulence models reproduce essentially identical separation of the approach thin boundary layer and yield an unsteady horseshoe vortex system consisting of multiple vortices in the leading edge region of the upstream cube. Significant discrepancies between the URANS and all DES solutions are observed, however, in other regions of interest such as the shear layers emanating from the cubes, the inter-cube gap and the downstream wake. Regardless of the grid refinement, URANS fails to capture key features of the mean flow, including the second horseshoe vortex in the upstream junction and recirculating flow on the top surface of the downstream cube for the large cube spacing, and underestimates significantly turbulence statistics in most regions of the flow for both cases. On the coarse mesh, all three DES approaches appear to yield very similar results and fail to reproduce the second horseshoe vortex. The standard DES and DDES solutions obtained on the fine meshes are essentially identical and both suffer from premature switching to unresolved DNS, due to the mis-interpretation of grid refinement as wall proximity, which leads to spurious vortices in the inter-cube region. Numerical solutions show that the low-Re modification (DES-LR) is critical prerequisite in DES on the ambiguously fine - not fine enough for full LES - mesh to prevent excessive nonlinear drop of the subgrid eddy viscosity in low cell-Re regions like in the inter-obstacle gap. Mean flow quantities and turbulence statistics obtained with DES-LR on the fine mesh are in good overall agreement with the measurements in most regions of interest for both cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-305
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NSF grants–EAR-0120914 (as part of the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics) and EAR-0738726 and a grant (Code # ‘06 CTIP B-01) from the Construction Technology Innovation Program (CTIP) funded by from the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs of Korean government. This work was carried out in part using computing resources at the University of Minnesota Supercomputer Institute.


  • Coherent structures
  • DES
  • Turbulence modeling
  • Wall-mounted cubes


Dive into the research topics of 'Detached eddy simulation of flow around two wall-mounted cubes in tandem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this