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Study of coherent structures in turbulent flows using Proper Orthogonal Decomposition



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For many decades, turbulence has been the subject of extensive numerical research and experimental work. A bottleneck problem in turbulence research has been to detect and characterize the energetic, space and time-dependent structures and give a mathematical definition to each topology. This research presents a fundamental study of coherent structures, embedded in turbulent flows, by use of Proper Orthogonal Decomposition (POD). The target is to detect dominant features which contain the largest fraction of the total kinetic energy and hence contribute more to a turbulent flow. POD is proven to be a robust methodology in multivariate analysis of non-linear problems. This method also helps to obtain a low-dimensional approximation of a high-dimensional process, like a turbulent flow. This manuscript-based dissertation consists of five chapters. The first chapter starts with a brief introduction to turbulence, available simulation techniques, limitations and practical applications. Next, POD is introduced and the step-by-step approach is explained in detail. Three submitted manuscripts are presented in the subsequent chapters. Each chapter starts with introducing the study case and explaining the contribution of the study to the whole topic and also has its topic-relevant literature review. Each article consists of two parts: flow simulation and verification of the results at the onset, followed by POD analysis and reconstruction of the turbulent flow fields. For flow simulation, Large Eddy Simulation (LES) was performed to obtain databases for POD analysis. The simulations were validated by making comparison with available experimental and numerical studies. For each case, coherent topologies are characterized and the contribution of kinetic energy for each structure is determined and compared with previous literature. The first manuscript focused on investigating the large-scale dynamics in the wake of an infinite square cylinder. This case is the first step towards the targeting study case of this research, i.e. flow over rib roughened walls. The main purpose the first step is to establish a benchmark for comparison to the more complicated cases of a square cylinder with a nearby wall and flow over a rib-roughened surface. For POD analysis, the three-dimensional velocity field is obtained from LES of the flow around an infinite square cylinder at a Reynolds number of Re = 500. The POD algorithm is examined and the total energy of the flow is found to be well captured by only a small number of eigenmodes. From the energy spectrum, it is learned that each eigenmode represents a particular flow characteristic embedded in the turbulent wake, and eigenmodes with analogous characteristics can be bundled as pairs. Qualitative analysis of the dominant modes provided insight as to the spatial distribution of dominant structures in the turbulent wake. Another outcome of this chapter is to develop physical interpretations of the energetic structures by examining the temporal coefficients and tracking their life-cycle. It was observed that the paired temporal coefficients are approximately sinusoidal with similar order of magnitude and frequency and a phase shift. Lastly, it was observed that the turbulent flow field can be approximated by a linear combination of the mean flow and a finite number of spatial modes. The second manuscript analyses the influence of a solid wall on the wake dynamics of an infinite square cylinder. Different cases have been studied by changing the distance between the cylinder and the bottom wall. From the simulation results, it is learned that the value of drag and lift coefficients can be significantly affected by a nearby solid wall. From the energy decay spectrum it is observed that the energy decay rate varies for different gap ratios and accordingly a physical explanation is developed. Visualization of coherent structures for each case shows that for larger gaps, although the structures are distorted and inclined away from the wall, the travelling wave characteristic persists. Lastly, it is observed that as the gap ratio gets smaller, energetic structures originated by the wall begin to appear in the lower index modes. The last manuscript presents a numerical study of the structures in turbulent Couette flow with roughness on one wall, which as mentioned earlier, is the targeting study case of this research. Flow over both roughened and smooth surfaces was examined in a single study. Comparison was made with experiments and other numerical studies to verify the LES results. The mean velocity distribution across the channel shows that the rib roughness on the bottom wall has a strong effect on the velocity profile on the opposite wall. The energetic coherent dynamics of turbulent flow were investigated by the use of POD. The energy decay spectrum was analysed and the influence of a roughened wall and each roughness element on formation of those structures was investigated. Coherent POD modes on a spanwise sampling plane are detected. A secondary swirling motion is visualized, for the first two modes and counter-rotating cells are observed in the lower region of the channel above the rough wall for the higher modes. At the end, a quantitative analysis of the POD temporal coefficients was performed, which characterize the life-cycle of each coherent dynamic. A motivating outcome of this analysis is to decompose the time trace curves into quasi-periodic and fluctuations curves and to detect a linkage between these life cycles and physical meaning and location of each energetic pattern. At the end, in a closuring chapter, concluding remarks of this research work are presented in more detail and some potential extensions have been proposed for future researchers.



Proper Orthogonal Decomposition, POD, coherent structures, turbulent flow, Reynolds Number, Large Eddy Simulation, LES



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


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