Transition from bubble-type vortex breakdown to columnar vortex in a confined swirling flow

F. Sotiropoulos, Y. Ventikos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The unsteady three-dimensional incompressible Navier-Stokes equations are solved numerically to study the mechanisms that lead to the transition from steady bubble-type vortex breakdown to unsteady columnar vortex flow in a closed cylinder with a rotating lid. Calculations are carried out to simulate the impulsive acceleration of the flow from Reynolds number Re=2100, where the flow is steady with two distinct breakdown bubbles, to Re=3750. The computed results show that the widely used, in previous numerical simulations of this flow, assumption of axisymmetric flow is not valid even for the initial steady flowfield (Re=2100). Three-dimensionally originates inside the centrifugally unstable Stewartson layer in the form of spiral disturbances. During the early stages of the impulsive acceleration, the flow is dominated by the centrifugal instability of the Stewartson layer that casues the initial spiral disturbances to evolve rapidly into spiral Taylor-Gortler vortices. These vortices, which originate just downstream of the rotating wall, spread rapidly towards the stationary wall and begin to interact with the swirling flow along the axis. This interaction is shown to be responsible for the collapse of the breakdown bubbles and the formation of a columnar vortex core subject to moving wave trains. The present results are consistent with recent linear stability findings and are further supported by available experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-458
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partly supported by Voith Hydro. Inc. and the US Department of Energy under the Advanced Hydroturbine Project. All calculations were carried out on the Cray C-90 supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. We are especially grateful to A. Spohn, M. Mory, and E.J. Hopfinger for kindly providing us with a copy of their yet unpublished manuscript.


Dive into the research topics of 'Transition from bubble-type vortex breakdown to columnar vortex in a confined swirling flow'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this