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A numerical simulation of unsteady flow in a two-dimensional collapsible channel

  • X. Y. Luo (a1) and T. J. Pedley (a1) (a2)

The collapse of a compressed elastic tube conveying a flow occurs in several physiological applications and has become a problem of considerable interest. Laboratory experiments on a finite length of collapsible tube reveal a rich variety of self-excited oscillations, indicating that the system is a complex, nonlinear dynamical system. Following our previous study on steady flow in a two-dimensional model of the collapsible tube problem (Luo & Pedley 1995), we here investigate the instability of the steady solution, and details of the resulting oscillations when it is unstable, by studying the time-dependent problem. For this purpose, we have developed a time-dependent simulation of the coupled flow – membrane problem, using the Spine method to treat the moving boundary and a second-order time integration scheme with variable time increments.

It is found that the steady solutions become unstable as tension falls below a certain value, say Tu, which decreases as the Reynolds number increases. As a consequence, steady flow gives way to self-excited oscillations, which become increasingly complicated as tension is decreased from Tu. A sequence of bifurcations going through regular oscillations to irregular oscillations is found, showing some interesting dynamic features similar to those observed in experiments. In addition, vorticity waves are found downstream of the elastic section, with associated recirculating eddies which sometimes split into two. These are similar to the vorticity waves found previously for flow past prescribed, time-dependent indentations. It is speculated that the mechanism of the oscillation is crucially dependent on the details of energy dissipation and flow separation at the indentation.

As tension is reduced even further, the membrane is sucked underneath the downstream rigid wall and, although this causes the numerical scheme to break down, it in fact agrees with another experimental observation for flow in thin tubes.

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