Journal of Fluid Mechanics

The late stages of transition to turbulence in channel flow

N. D.  Sandham a1p1 and L.  Kleiser a1
a1 DLR, Institute for Theoretical Fluid Mechanics, Göttingen. Germany

Article author query
sandham nd   [Google Scholar] 
kleiser l   [Google Scholar] 


The late stages of transition, from the Λ-vortex stage up to turbulence, are investigated by postprocessing data from a direct numerical simulation of the complete K-type transition process in plane channel flow at a Reynolds number of 5000 (based on channel half-width and laminar centreline velocity). The deterministic roll-up of the high-shear layer that forms around the Λ-vortices is examined in detail. The new vortices arising from this process are visualized by plotting three-dimensional surfaces of constant pressure. Five vortices are observed, with one of these developing into a strong hairpin-shaped vortex. Interactions between the different vortices, and between the two channel halves, are found to be important. In the very last stage of transition second-generation shear layers are observed to form and roll up into new vortices. It is postulated that at this stage a sustainable mechanism of wall-bounded turbulence exists in an elementary form. The features which are locally present include high wall shear, sublayer streaks, ejections and sweeps. Large-scale energetic vortices are found to be an important part of the mechanism by which the turbulence spreads to other spanwise positions. The generality of the findings are discussed with reference to data from simulations of H-type and mixed-type transition.

(Published Online April 26 2006)
(Received September 23 1991)
(Revised April 3 1992)

p1 Present address: Department of Aeronautical Engineering, Queen Mary and Westfield College, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK.