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  • Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Volume 242
  • September 1992, pp. 491-527

The role of non-uniqueness in the development of vortex breakdown in tubes

  • Philip S. Beran (a1) and Fred E. C. Culick (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2006

Numerical solutions of viscous, swirling flows through circular pipes of constant radius and circular pipes with throats have been obtained. Solutions were computed for several values of vortex circulation, Reynolds number and throat/inlet area ratio, under the assumptions of steady flow, rotational symmetry and frictionless flow at the pipe wall. When the Reynolds number is sufficiently large, vortex breakdown occurs abruptly with increased circulation as a result of the existence of non-unique solutions. Solution paths for Reynolds numbers exceeding approximately 1000 are characterized by an ensemble of three inviscid flow types: columnar (for pipes of constant radius), soliton and wavetrain. Flows that are quasi-cylindrical and which do not exhibit vortex breakdown exist below a critical circulation, dependent on the Reynolds number and the throat/inlet area ratio. Wavetrain solutions are observed over a small range of circulation below the critical circulation, while above the critical value, wave solutions with large regions of reversed flow are found that are primarily solitary in nature. The quasi-cylindrical (QC) equations first fail near the critical value, in support of Hall's theory of vortex breakdown (1967). However, the QC equations are not found to be effective in predicting the spatial position of the breakdown structure.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
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