Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Settling velocity and concentration distribution of heavy particles in homogeneous isotropic turbulence

Lian-Ping  Wang a1p1 and Martin R.  Maxey a1
a1 Center for Fluid Mechanics, Turbulence, and Computation, Box 1966, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA

Article author query
wang lp   [Google Scholar] 
maxey mr   [Google Scholar] 


The average settling velocity in homogeneous turbulence of a small rigid spherical particle, subject to a Stokes drag force, has been shown to differ from that in still fluid owing to a bias from the particle inertia (Maxey 1987). Previous numerical results for particles in a random flow field, where the flow dynamics were not considered, showed an increase in the average settling velocity. Direct numerical simulations of the motion of heavy particles in isotropic homogeneous turbulence have been performed where the flow dynamics are included. These show that a significant increase in the average settling velocity can occur for particles with inertial response time and still-fluid terminal velocity comparable to the Kolmogorov scales of the turbulence. This increase may be as much as 50% of the terminal velocity, which is much larger than was previously found. The concentration field of the heavy particles, obtained from direct numerical simulations, shows the importance of the inertial bias with particles tending to collect in elongated sheets on the peripheries of local vortical structures. This is coupled then to a preferential sweeping of the particles in downward moving fluid. Again the importance of Kolmogorov scaling to these processes is demonstrated. Finally, some consideration is given to larger particles that are subject to a nonlinear drag force where it is found that the nonlinearity reduces the net increase in settling velocity.

(Published Online April 26 2006)
(Received November 25 1992)
(Revised April 17 1993)

p1 Present address: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.