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
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