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Helicoidal particles in turbulent flows with multi-scale helical injection

  • L. Biferale (a1), K. Gustavsson (a2) and R. Scatamacchia (a1)


We present numerical and theoretical results concerning the properties of turbulent flows with strong multi-scale helical injection. We perform direct numerical simulations of the Navier–Stokes equations under a random helical stirring with power-law spectrum and with different intensities of energy and helicity injections. We show that there exists three different regimes where the forward energy and helicity inertial transfers are: (i) both leading with respect to the external injections, (ii) energy transfer is leading and helicity transfer is sub-leading and (iii) both are sub-leading and helicity is maximal at all scales. As a result, the cases (ii)–(iii) give flows with Kolmogorov-like inertial energy cascade and tuneable helicity transfers/contents. We further explore regime (iii) by studying its effect on the kinetics of point-like isotropic helicoids, particles whose dynamics is isotropic but breaks parity invariance. We investigate small-scale fractal clustering and preferential sampling of intense helical flow structures. Depending on their structural parameters, the isotropic helicoids either preferentially sample co-chiral or anti-chiral flow structures. We explain these findings in limiting cases in terms of what is known for spherical particles of different densities and degrees of inertia. Furthermore, we present theoretical and numerical results for a stochastic model where dynamical properties can be calculated using analytical perturbation theory. Our study shows that a suitable tuning of the stirring mechanism can strongly modify the small-scale turbulent helical properties and demonstrates that isotropic helicoids are the simplest particles able to preferentially sense helical properties in turbulence.


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