Journal of Fluid Mechanics

An experimental investigation of the relative diffusion of particle pairs in three-dimensional turbulent flow

a1 Risø National Laboratory, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark


The particle tracking (PT) technique is used to study turbulent diffusion of particle pairs in a three-dimensional turbulent flow generated by two oscillating grids. The experimental data show a range where the Richardson–Obukhov law [left angle bracket]r2[right angle bracket] = Cεt3 is satisfied, and the Richardson–Obukhov constant is found to be C = 0.5. A number of models predict much larger values. Furthermore, the distance–neighbour function is studied in detail in order to determine its general shape. The results are compared with the predictions of three models: Richardson (1926), Batchelor (1952) and Kraichnan (1966a). These three models predict different behaviours of the distance–neighbour function, and of the three, only Richardson's model is found to be consistent with the measurements. We have corrected a minor error in Kraichnan's (1996a) Lagrangian history direct interaction calculations with the result that we had to increase his theoretical value from C = 2.42 to C = 5.5.

(Received February 10 2000)