The effect of short regions of high surface curvature on turbulent boundary layers

A. J. Smits, S. T.B. Young, P. Bradshaw

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Measurements, including one-point double, triple or quadruple mean products of velocity fluctuations, have been made in low-speed turbulent, boundary layers on flat surfaces downstream of concave or convex bends with turning angles of 20 or 30 degrees, the length of the curved region being at most 6 times the boundary-layer thickness at entry. These short bends approximate to “impulses” of curvature, and the object of the work was to investigate the impulse response of the boundary layer, essentially the decay of structural changes downstream of the bends. The work can be regarded as a sequel, with much more detailed measurements, to the study by So & Mellor (1972, 1973, 1975) who investigated the response to step increases of curvature: turbulent boundary layers being nonlinear systems, responses to several kinds of curvature history are needed to assemble an adequate description of the flow. The most striking feature of the “impulse” response is that the decay of the high turbulent intensity found at exit from the concave bends is not monotonic; the Reynolds stresses in the outer layer collapse to well below the level at entry, and are still falling slowly at the end of the test rig although in principle they must recover eventually. On the convex (stabilized) side the flow recovers, monotonically in the main, from a low level of turbulent intensity at the exit. The pronounced second-order response on the concave side can be explained qualitatively by interaction between the shear stress and the mean shear and is not peculiar to curved flows, but in the present cases the response is complicated by large changes in the dimensionless structure parameters related to double or triple mean products of velocity fluctuations. Strong spanwise variations, due presumably to longitudinal vortices, further complicate the flow in the concave bends, and decay only very slowly downstream.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-242
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1979

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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