Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Asymmetry and transition to turbulence in a smooth axisymmetric constriction


a1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, École Polytechnique de Montréal, C.P. 6079, Succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3A7, Canada


The flow through a smooth axisymmetric constriction (a stenosis in medical applications) of 75% restriction in area is measured using stereoscopic and time-resolved particle image velocimetry (PIV) in the Reynolds number range Re ~ 100–1100. At low Reynolds numbers, steady flow results reveal an asymmetry of the flow downstream of the constriction. The jet emanating from the throat of the nozzle is deflected towards the wall causing the formation of a one-sided recirculation region. The asymmetry results from a Coanda-type wall attachment already observed in symmetric planar sudden expansion flows. When the Reynolds number is increased above the critical value of 400, the separation surface cannot remain attached and an unsteady flow regime begins. Low-frequency axial oscillations of the reattachment point are observed along with a slow swirling motion of the jet. The phenomenon is linked to a periodic discharge of the unstable recirculation region inducing alternating laminar and turbulent flow phases. The resulting flow is highly non-stationary and intermittent. Discrete wavelet transforms are used to discriminate between the large-scale motions of the mean flow and the vortical and turbulent fluctuations. Continuous wavelet transforms reveal the spectral structure of flow disturbances. Temporal measurements of the three velocity components in cross-sections are used with the Taylor hypothesis to qualitatively reconstruct the three-dimensional velocity vector fields, which are validated by comparing with two-dimensional PIV measurements in meridional planes. Visualizations of isosurfaces of the swirling strength criterion allow the identification of the topology of the vortices and highlight the formation and evolution of hairpin-like vortex structures in the flow. Finally, with further increase of the Reynolds number, the flow exhibits less intermittency and becomes stationary for Re ~ 900. Linear stochastic estimation identifies the predominance of vortex rings downstream of the stenosis before breakdown to turbulence.

(Received May 18 2007)

(Revised April 22 2008)

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