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A theory for turbulent pipe and channel flows


A theory for fully developed turbulent pipe and channel flows is proposed which extends the classical analysis to include the effects of finite Reynolds number. The proper scaling for these flows at finite Reynolds number is developed from dimensional and physical considerations using the Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes equations. In the limit of infinite Reynolds number, these reduce to the familiar law of the wall and velocity deficit law respectively.

The fact that both scaled profiles describe the entire flow for finite values of Reynolds number but reduce to inner and outer profiles is used to determine their functional forms in the ‘overlap’ region which both retain in the limit. This overlap region corresponds to the constant, Reynolds shear stress region (30 < y+ < 0.1R+ approximately, where R+ = u*R/v). The profiles in this overlap region are logarithmic, but in the variable y + a where a is an offset. Unlike the classical theory, the additive parameters, Bi, Bo, and log coefficient, 1/κ, depend on R+. They are asymptotically constant, however, and are linked by a constraint equation. The corresponding friction law is also logarithmic and entirely determined by the velocity profile parameters, or vice versa.

It is also argued that there exists a mesolayer near the bottom of the overlap region approximately bounded by 30 < y+ < 300 where there is not the necessary scale separation between the energy and dissipation ranges for inertially dominated turbulence. As a consequence, the Reynolds stress and mean flow retain a Reynolds number dependence, even though the terms explicitly containing the viscosity are negligible in the single-point Reynolds-averaged equations. A simple turbulence model shows that the offset parameter a accounts for the mesolayer, and because of it a logarithmic behaviour in y applies only beyond y+ > 300, well outside where it has commonly been sought.

The experimental data from the superpipe experiment and DNS of channel flow are carefully examined and shown to be in excellent agreement with the new theory over the entire range 1.8 × 102 < R+ < 5.3 × 105. The Reynolds number dependence of all the parameters and the friction law can be determined from the single empirical function, H = A/(ln R+)α for α > 0, just as for boundary layers. The Reynolds number dependence of the parameters diminishes very slowly with increasing Reynolds number, and the asymptotic behaviour is reached only when R+ [Gt ] 105.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-fluid-mechanics
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