In order to investigate the turbulent drag reduction phenomenon and understand its mechanism, direct numerical simulation (DNS) was carried out on decaying homogeneous isotropic turbulence (DHIT) with and without polymer additives. We explored the polymer effect on DHIT from the energetic viewpoint, i.e. the decay of the total turbulent kinetic energy and energy distribution at each scale in Fourier space and from the phenomenological viewpoint, i.e. the alterations of vortex structures, the enstrophy and the strain. It was obtained that in DHIT with polymer additives the decay of the turbulent kinetic energy is faster than that in the Newtonian fluid case and a modification of the turbulent kinetic energy transfer process for the Newtonian fluid flow is observed due to the release of the polymer elastic energy into flow structures at certain small scales. Besides, we deduced the transport equations of the enstrophy and the strain, respectively, for DHIT with polymer additives. Based on the analyses of these transport equations, it was found that polymer additives depress both the enstrophy and the strain in DHIT as compared to the Newtonian fluid case, indicating the inhibition effect on small-scale vortex structures and turbulence intensity by polymers.
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