Experimental investigation of turbulent flow over surfaces of rigid and flexible roughness

Mostafa Toloui, Aliza Abraham, Jiarong Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study presents a comparative experiment to investigate turbulent channel flows over surfaces of rigid and flexible roughness. Using digital inline holographic particle tracking velocimetry in a refractive-index-matched flow channel, the turbulent flow and roughness deformation are measured simultaneously. The mean velocity profiles of the two cases match closely, but the flow over flexible roughness shows a substantial reduction of Reynolds stresses with a corresponding decrease of coherence in roughness-induced flow structures. For flexible roughness, the streamwise roughness deformation exhibits higher energy levels at lower frequencies where the fluid velocity spectra peak, while the spanwise deformation shows a more prominent peak at the natural frequency of the roughness elements. Combining the measurements of turbulent flow and roughness kinematics, we show a close match of the strain energy of the flexible roughness with the deficit of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) due to roughness compliance, and a connection between large roughness deformation and elevated levels of Reynolds stresses. Overall, these analyses demonstrate the anisotropic process of turbulence-roughness interaction, in which the TKE is dampened and primarily converted into streamwise deformation of roughness, and is partially returned to the smaller scale turbulence through spanwise oscillation of roughness at its natural frequency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-275
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Thermal and Fluid Science
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the startup package of Jiarong Hong from the University of Minnesota, the MnDrive and Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowships of Mostafa Toloui from the University of Minnesota. Authors would like to thank David Brajkovic, Kevin Mallery and Nolan St John for their help in flow facility construction as well as their contribution in GPU implementation of the data analysis. We also would like to thank Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) for computing resources.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Compliant roughness
  • Digital inline holography
  • Wall-bounded turbulence


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