Journal of Fluid Mechanics


An experimental study of boundary layer transition induced by a cylinder wake

A. C. Mandala1 c1 and J. Deya1

a1 Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore-560012, India


Boundary layer transition induced by the wake of a circular cylinder in the free stream has been investigated using the particle image velocimetry technique. Some differences between simulation and experimental studies have been reported in the literature, and these have motivated the present study. The appearance of spanwise vortices in the early stage is further confirmed here. A spanwise vortex appears to evolve into a $ \mrm{\Lambda} $/hairpin vortex; the flow statistics also confirm such vortices. With increasing Reynolds number, based on the cylinder diameter, and with decreasing cylinder height from the plate, the physical size of these hairpin-like structures is found to decrease. Some mean flow characteristics, including the streamwise growth of the disturbance energy, in a wake-induced transition resemble those in bypass transition induced by free stream turbulence. Streamwise velocity streaks that are eventually generated in the late stage often undergo sinuous-type oscillations. Similar to other transitional flows, an inclined shear layer in the wall-normal plane is often seen to oscillate and shed vortices. The normalized shedding frequency of these vortices, estimated from the spatial spacing and the convection velocity of these vortices, is found to be independent of the Reynolds number, similar to that in ribbon-induced transition. Although the nature of free stream disturbance in a wake-induced transition and that in a bypass transition are different, the late-stage features including the flow breakdown characteristics of these two transitions appear to be similar.

(Received August 12 2010)

(Reviewed April 14 2011)

(Accepted June 15 2011)

(Online publication September 01 2011)

Key Words:

  • boundary layer stability;
  • transition to turbulence;
  • vortex streets


c1 Email address for correspondence: