Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Experimental study of the wake behind a surface-piercing cylinder for a clean and contaminated free surface

a1 Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA


This experimental investigation into the nature of free-surface flows was to study the effects of surfactants on the wake of a surface-piercing cylinder. A better understanding of the process of vorticity generation and conversion at a free surface due to the absence or presence of surfactants has been gained. Surfactants, or surface contaminants, have the tendency to reduce the surface tension proportionally to the respective concentration at the free surface. Thus when surfactant concentration varies across a free surface, surface tension gradients occur and this results in shear stresses, thus altering the boundary condition at the free surface. A low Reynolds number wake behind a surface-piercing cylinder was chosen as the field of study, using digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV) to map the velocity and vorticity field for three orthogonal cross-sections of the flow. Reynolds numbers ranged from 350 to 460 and the Froude number was kept below 1.0. In addition, a new technique was used to simultaneously map the free surface deformation. Shadowgraph imaging of the free surface was also used to gain a better understanding of the flow. It was found that, depending on the surface condition, the connection of the shedding vortex filaments in the wake of the cylinder was greatly altered with the propensity for surface tension gradients to redirect the vorticity near the free surface to that of the surface-parallel component. This result has an impact on the understanding of turbulent flows in the vicinity of a free surface with varying surface conditions.

(Received March 31 1998)
(Revised August 5 1999)

p1 Present address: Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Parks College of Engineering and Aviation, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO 63103, USA.