The dynamics of variable-density turbulence

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The dynamics of variable-density turbulence

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Title: The dynamics of variable-density turbulence
Author: Sandoval, Donald Leon
Abstract: The dynamics of variable-density turbulent fluids are studied by direct numerical simulation. The flow is incompressible so that acoustic waves are decoupled from the problem, and implying that density is not a thermodynamic variable. Changes in density occur due to molecular mixing. The velocity field is, in general, divergent. A pseudo-spectral numerical technique is used to solve the equations of motion. Three-dimensional simulations are performed using a grid size of 128$\sp3$ grid points. Two types of problems are studied: (1) the decay of isotropic, variable-density turbulence, and (2) buoyancy-generated turbulence in a fluid with large density fluctuations (such that the Boussinesq approximation is not valid).In the case of isotropic, variable-density turbulence, the overall statistical decay behavior, for the cases studied, is relatively unaffected by the presence of density variations when the initial density and velocity fields are statistically independent. The results for this case are in quantitative agreement with previous numerical and laboratory results. In this case, the initial density field has a bimodal probability density function (pdf) which evolves in time towards a Gaussian distribution. The pdf of the density field is symmetric about its mean value throughout its evolution. If the initial velocity and density fields are statistically dependent, however, the decay process is significantly affected by the density fluctuations. For this case, the pdf of the density becomes asymmetric about its mean value during the early stages of its evolution. It is argued that these asymmetries in the pdf of the density field are due to different entrainment rates, into the mixing region, that favor the high speed fluid.For the case of buoyancy-generated turbulence, variable-density departures from the Boussinesq approximation are studied. Also, Reynolds number effects are investigated using initial density fields with moderately large initial density variations. An important parameter that characterizes buoyancy driven flow is the initial value of the ratio of the rms density fluctuations to the mean density. If this quantity is less than approximately 0.1 than the resulting buoyancy-driven flow is within the Boussinesq approximation. It is shown that the mean pressure gradient, which is constant in the Boussinesq limit, varies with time and is a function of magnitude of the density fluctuations and the acceleration. Vorticity dynamics for this flow are also studied.The results of the buoyancy-generated turbulence are compared with variable-density model predictions. Both a one-point (engineering) model and a two-point (spectral) model are tested against the numerical data. Some deficiencies in these variable-density models are discussed and modifications are suggested.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 1995

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