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Nonlinear waves with a threefold rotational symmetry in pipe flow: influence of a strongly shear-thinning rheology

  • Emmanuel Plaut (a1), Nicolas Roland (a1) and Chérif Nouar (a1)
Abstract

In order to model the transition to turbulence in pipe flow of non-Newtonian fluids, the influence of a strongly shear-thinning rheology on the travelling waves with a threefold rotational symmetry of Faisst & Eckhardt (Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 91, 2003, 224502) and Wedin & Kerswell (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 508, 2004, pp. 333–371) is analysed. The rheological model is Carreau’s law. Besides the shear-thinning index $n_{C}$ , the dimensionless characteristic time $\unicode[STIX]{x1D706}$ of the fluid is considered as the main non-Newtonian control parameter. If $\unicode[STIX]{x1D706}=0$ , the fluid is Newtonian. In the relevant limit $\unicode[STIX]{x1D706}\rightarrow +\infty$ , the fluid approaches a power-law behaviour. The laminar base flows are first characterized. To compute the nonlinear waves, a Petrov–Galerkin code is used, with continuation methods, starting from the Newtonian case. The axial wavenumber is optimized and the critical waves appearing at minimal values of the Reynolds number $\mathit{Re}_{w}$ based on the mean velocity and wall viscosity are characterized. As $\unicode[STIX]{x1D706}$ increases, these correspond to a constant value of the Reynolds number based on the mean velocity and viscosity. This viscosity, close to the one of the laminar flow, can be estimated analytically. Therefore the experimentally relevant critical Reynolds number $\mathit{Re}_{wc}$ can also be estimated analytically. This Reynolds number may be viewed as a lower estimate of the Reynolds number for the transition to developed turbulence. This demonstrates a quantified stabilizing effect of the shear-thinning rheology. Finally, the increase of the pressure gradient in waves, as compared to the one in the laminar flow with the same mass flux, is calculated, and a kind of ‘drag reduction effect’ is found.

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Email address for correspondence: emmanuel.plaut@univ-lorraine.fr
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Present address: SAFRAN, Villaroche Center, 77550 Moissy Cramayel, France.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
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