Numerical and experimental investigation of circulation in short cylinders

Akira Kageyama, Hantao Ji, Jeremy Goodman, Fei Chen, Ethan Shoshan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


In preparation for an experimental study of magnetorotational instability (MRI) in liquid metal, we explore Couette flows having height comparable to the gap between cylinders, centrifugally stable rotation, and high Reynolds number. Experiments in water are compared with numerical simulations. Simulations show that endcaps corotating with the outer cylinder drive a strong poloidal circulation that redistributes angular momentum. Predicted azimuthal flow profiles agree well with experimental measurements. Spin-down times scale with Reynolds number as expected for laminar Ekman circulation; extrapolation from two-dimensional simulations at Re ≤ 3200 agrees remarkably well with experiment at Re ∼ 106. This suggests that turbulence does not dominate the effective viscosity. Further detailed numerical studies reveal a strong radially inward flow near both endcaps. After turning vertically along the inner cylinder, these flows converge at the midplane and depart the boundary in a radial jet. To minimize this circulation in the MRI experiment, endcaps consisting of multiple, differentially rotating rings are proposed. Simulations predict that an adequate approximation to the ideal Couette profile can be obtained with a few rings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2424-2437
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Physical Society of Japan
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • Ekman circulation
  • Jet flow
  • Liquid metal experiment
  • Magnetorotational instability
  • Taylor-Couette instability


Dive into the research topics of 'Numerical and experimental investigation of circulation in short cylinders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this