The stability of supercritical Couette flow has been studied extensively, but few measurements of the velocity field of flow have been made. Particle image velocimetry (PIV) was used to measure the axial and radial velocities in a meridional plane for non-wavy and wavy Taylor–Couette flow in the annulus between a rotating inner cylinder and a fixed outer cylinder with fixed end conditions. The experimental results for the Taylor vortex flow indicate that as the inner cylinder Reynolds number increases, the vortices become stronger and the outflow between pairs of vortices becomes increasingly jet-like. Wavy vortex flow is characterized by azimuthally wavy deformation of the vortices both axially and radially. The axial motion of the vortex centres decreases monotonically with increasing Reynolds number, but the radial motion of the vortex centres has a maximum at a moderate Reynolds number above that required for transition. Significant transfer of fluid between neighbouring vortices occurs in a cyclic fashion at certain points along an azimuthal wave, so that while one vortex grows in size, the two adjacent vortices become smaller, and vice versa. At other points in the azimuthal wave, there is an azimuthally local net axial flow in which fluid winds around the vortices with a sense corresponding to the axial deformation of the wavy vortex tube. These measurements also confirm that the shift-and-reflect symmetry used in computational studies of wavy vortex flow is a valid approach.
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