Journal of Fluid Mechanics



Papers

Scalar transport in random cylinder arrays at moderate Reynolds number


BRIAN L. WHITE a1 and HEIDI M. NEPF a2
a1 Department of Civil/Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA blw@mit.edu
a2 Department of Civil/Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA hmnepf@mit.edu

Abstract

This paper theoretically describes and experimentally verifies two mechanisms leading to longitudinal dispersion of a passive tracer in a random array of circular cylinders. We focus on moderate Reynolds numbers of order 10–1000, specifically the range characterized by unsteady cylinder wakes. In this regime, two mechanisms contribute to dispersion, each associated with a distinct region of the cylinder wakes: (i) the unsteady recirculation zone close to each cylinder, and (ii) the velocity defect behind each cylinder, which extends downstream of the cylinder over a distance of the order of the cylinder spacing. The first mechanism, termed vortex-trapping dispersion, is due to the entrainment of tracer into the unsteady recirculation zone, where it is momentarily trapped and then released. A theoretical expression for this dispersive mechanism is derived in terms of the residence time and size of the recirculation zone. The second mechanism is due to advection through the random velocity field created by the random distribution of the wake velocity defect. We derive an expression for the defect behind an average cylinder, and show that it decays owing to array drag over a length scale called the attenuation length, which is of the order of the cylinder spacing. The superposition of the wake defect behind each cylinder creates the random velocity field. Theoretical predictions for dispersion agree very well with observations of tracer transport in a laboratory cylinder array, correctly capturing the dependence on array density and Reynolds number. The laboratory studies also document a transition in small-scale mixing at cylinder Reynolds number $\approx 200$. Below this limit, individual filaments of tracer remain distinct, producing significant fluctuations in the local concentration field. At higher Reynolds number, cylinder wakes contribute sufficient turbulence to erase the filament signature and smooth the tracer distribution.

(Received August 19 2002)
(Revised January 21 2003)



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