Reynolds number effects on the coherent dynamics of the turbulent horseshoe vortex system

Cristian Escauriaza, Fotis Sotiropoulos

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The adverse pressure gradient induced by a surface-mounted obstacle in a turbulent boundary layer causes the approaching flow to separate and form a dynamically rich horseshoe vortex system (HSV) in the junction of the obstacle with the wall. The Reynolds number of the flow (Re) is one of the important parameters that control the rich coherent dynamics of the vortex, which are known to give rise to low-frequency, bimodal fluctuations of the velocity field (Devenport and Simpson, J Fluid Mech 210:23-55, 1990; Paik et al.; Phys Fluids 19:045107, 2007). We carry out detached eddy simulations (DES) of the flow past a circular cylinder mounted on a rectangular channel for Re∈=∈2.0 × 104 and 3.9 × 104 (Dargahi, Exp Fluids 8:1-12, 1989) in order to systematically investigate the effect of the Reynolds number on the HSV dynamics. The computed results are compared with each other and with previous experimental and computational results for a related junction flow at a much higher Reynolds number (Re∈=∈1.15 × 10 5) (Devenport and Simpson, J Fluid Mech 210:23-55, 1990; Paik et al.; Phys Fluids 19:045107, 2007). The computed results reveal significant variations with Re in terms of the mean-flow quantities, turbulence statistics, and the coherent dynamics of the turbulent HSV. For Re∈=∈2.0 × 104 the HSV system consists of a large number of necklace-type vortices that are shed periodically at higher frequencies than those observed in the Re∈=∈3.9 × 104 case. For this latter case the number of large-scale vortical structures that comprise the instantaneous HSV system is reduced significantly and the flow dynamics becomes quasi-periodic. For both cases, we show that the instantaneous flowfields are dominated by eruptions of wall-generated vorticity associated with the growth of hairpin vortices that wrap around and disorganize the primary HSV system. The intensity and frequency of these eruptions, however, appears to diminish rapidly with decreasing Re. In the high Re case the HSV system consists of a single, highly energetic, large-scale necklace vortex that is aperiodically disorganized by the growth of the hairpin mode. Regardless of the Re, we find pockets in the junction region within which the histograms of velocity fluctuations are bimodal as has also been observed in several previous experimental studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-262
Number of pages32
JournalFlow, Turbulence and Combustion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by NSF Grants EAR-0120914 (as part of the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics) and EAR-0738726. C.E. would also like to acknowledge the support from Fondecyt grant 11080032. Computational resources have been provided by the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.


  • Coherent structures
  • Detached-eddy simulations
  • Horseshoe vortex
  • Junction flows
  • Reynolds number effects


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