Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Experimental investigation of absolute instability of a rotating-disk boundary layer

H. OTHMAN a1 and T. C. CORKE a1c1
a1 Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Center for Flow Physics and Control, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA

Article author query
othman h   [Google Scholar] 
corke tc   [Google Scholar] 


A series of experiments were performed to study the absolute instability of Type I travelling crossflow modes in the boundary layer on a smooth disk rotating at constant speed. The basic flow agreed with analytic theory, and the growth of natural disturbances matched linear theory predictions. Controlled temporal disturbances were introduced by a short-duration air pulse from a hypodermic tube located above the disk and outside the boundary layer. The air pulse was positioned just outboard of the linear-theory critical radius for Type I crossflow modes. A hot-wire sensor primarily sensitive to the azimuthal velocity component, was positioned at different spatial ($r,\theta$) locations on the disk to document the growth of disturbances produced by the air pulses. Ensemble averages conditioned on the air pulses revealed wave packets that evolved in time and space. Two amplitudes of air pulses were used. The lower amplitude was verified to produced wave packets with linear amplitude characteristics. The space–time evolution of the leading and trailing edges of the wave packets were followed past the critical radius for the absolute instability, $r_{c_{A}}$. With the lower amplitudes, the spreading of the disturbance wave packets did not continue to grow in time as $r_{c_{A}}$ was approached. Rather, the spreading of the trailing edge of the wave packet decelerated and asymptotically approached a constant. This result supports previous linear DNS simulations where it was concluded that the absolute instability does not produce a global mode and that linear disturbance wave packets are dominated by the convective instability. The larger-amplitude disturbances were found to produce larger temporal spreading of the wave packets. This was accompanied by a sharp growth in the wave packet amplitude past $r_{c_{A}}$. Explanations for this are discussed.

(Received June 29 2005)
(Revised March 18 2006)

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