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Effects of surface roughness on the flow characteristics in a turbulent boundary layer



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The present understanding of the structure and dynamics of turbulent boundary layers on aerodynamically smooth walls has been clarified over the last decade or so. However, the dynamics of turbulent boundary layers over rough surfaces is much less well known. Nevertheless, there are many industrial and environmental flow applications that require understanding of the mean velocity and turbulence in the immediate vicinity of the roughness elements. This thesis reports the effects of surface roughness on the flow characteristics in a turbulent boundary layer. Both experimental and numerical investigations are used in the present study. For the experimental study, comprehensive data sets are obtained for two-dimensional zero pressure-gradient turbulent boundary layers on a smooth surface and ten different rough surfaces created from sand paper, perforated sheet, and woven wire mesh. The physical size and geometry of the roughness elements and freestream velocity were chosen to encompass both transitionally rough and fully rough flow regimes. Three different probes, namely, Pitot probe, single hot-wire, and cross hot-film, were used to measure the velocity fields in the turbulent boundary layer. A Pitot probe was used to measure the streamwise mean velocity, while the single hot-wire and cross hot-film probes were used to measure the fluctuating velocity components across the boundary layer. The flow Reynolds number based on momentum thickness, , ranged from 3730 to 13,550. The data reported include mean velocity, streamwise and wall-normal turbulence intensities, Reynolds shear stress, triple correlations, as well as skewness and flatness factors. Different scaling parameters were used to interpret and assess both the smooth- and rough-wall data at different Reynolds numbers, for approximately the same freestream velocity. The appropriateness of the logarithmic law and power law proposed by George and Castillo (1997) to describe the mean velocity in the overlap region was also investigated. The present results were interpreted within the context of the Townsend’s wall similarity hypothesis. Based on the mean velocity data, a novel correlation that relates the skin friction to the ratio of the displacement and boundary layer thicknesses, which is valid for both smooth- and rough-wall flows, was proposed. In addition, it was also found that the application of a “mixed outer scale” caused the velocity profile in the outer region to collapse onto the same curve, irrespective of Reynolds numbers and roughness conditions. The present results showed that there is a common region within the overlap region of the mean velocity profile where both the log law and power law are indistinguishable, irrespective of the surface conditions. For the power law formulation, functional relationships between the roughness shift, and the power law coefficient and exponent were developed for the transitionally rough flows. The present results also suggested that the effect of surface roughness on the turbulence field depends to some degree on the specific characteristics of the roughness elements and also the component of the Reynolds stress tensor being considered. In the case of the numerical study, a new wall function formulation based on a power law was proposed for smooth and fully rough wall turbulent pipe flow. The new formulation correctly predicted the friction factors for smooth and fully rough wall turbulent pipe flow. The existing two-layer model realistically predicted the velocity shift on a log-law plot for the fully rough turbulent boundary layer. The two-layer model results also showed the effect of roughness is to enhance the level of turbulence kinetic energy and Reynolds shear stress compared to that on a smooth wall. This enhanced level extends into the outer region of the flow, which appears to be consistent with present and recent experimental results for the boundary layer.



Two-Layer Model, Wall Function Formulation, Reynolds Stress Components, Rough Wall, Turbulent Boundary Layer, Skin Friction Drag



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


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