A study investigating the flow around a cylinder rolling or sliding on a wall has been undertaken in two and three dimensions. The cylinder motion is specified from a set of five discrete rotation rates, ranging from prograde through to retrograde rolling. A Reynolds number range of 20–500 is considered. The effects of the nearby wall and the imposed body motion on the wake structure and dominant wake transitions have been determined. Prograde rolling is shown to destabilize the wake flow, while retrograde rotation delays the onset of unsteady flow to Reynolds numbers well above those observed for a cylinder in an unbounded flow.
Two-dimensional simulations show the presence of two recirculation zones in the steady wake, the lengths of which increase approximately linearly with the Reynolds number. Values of the lift and drag coefficient are also reported for the steady flow regime. Results from a linear stability analysis show that the wake initially undergoes a regular bifurcation from a steady two-dimensional flow to a steady three-dimensional wake for all rotation rates. The critical Reynolds number Rec of transition and the spanwise wavelength of the dominant mode are shown to be highly dependent on, but smoothly varying with, the rotation rate of the cylinder. Varying the rotation from prograde to retrograde rolling acts to increase the value of Rec and decrease the preferred wavelength. The structure of the fully evolved wake mode is then established through three-dimensional simulations. In fact it is found that at Reynolds numbers only marginally (~5%) above critical, the three-dimensional simulations indicate that the saturated state becomes time dependent, although at least initially, this does not result in a significant change to the mode structure. It is only at higher Reynolds numbers that the wake undergoes a transition to vortex shedding.
An analysis of the three-dimensional transition indicates that it is unlikely to be due to a centrifugal instability despite the superficial similarity to the flow over a backward-facing step, for which the transition mechanism has been speculated to be centrifugal. However, the attached elongated recirculation region and distribution of the spanwise perturbation vorticity field, and the similarity of these features with those of the flow through a partially blocked channel, suggest the possibility that the mechanism is elliptic in nature. Some analysis which supports this conjecture is undertaken.