TY - THES
AB - In many shear flows like pipe flow, plane Couette flow, plane Poiseuille flow, etc. turbulence emerges subcritically. Here, when subjected to strong enough perturbations, the flow becomes turbulent in spite of the laminar base flow being linearly stable. The nature of this instability has puzzled the scientific community for decades. At onset, turbulence appears in localized patches and flows are spatio-temporally intermittent. In pipe flow the localized turbulent structures are referred to as puffs and in planar flows like plane Couette and channel flow, patches arise in the form of localized oblique bands. In this thesis, we study the onset of turbulence in channel flow in direct numerical simulations from a dynamical system theory perspective, as well as by performing experiments in a large aspect ratio channel.
The aim of the experimental work is to determine the critical Reynolds number where turbulence first becomes sustained. Recently, the onset of turbulence has been described in analogy to absorbing state phase transition (i.e. directed percolation). In particular, it has been shown that the critical point can be estimated from the competition between spreading and decay processes. Here, by performing experiments, we identify the mechanisms underlying turbulence proliferation in channel flow and find the critical Reynolds number, above which turbulence becomes sustained. Above the critical point, the continuous growth at the tip of the stripes outweighs the stochastic shedding of turbulent patches at the tail and the stripes expand. For growing stripes, the probability to decay decreases while the probability of stripe splitting increases. Consequently, and unlike for the puffs in pipe flow, neither of these two processes is time-independent i.e. memoryless. Coupling between stripe expansion and creation of new stripes via splitting leads to a significantly lower critical point ($Re_c=670+/-10$) than most earlier studies suggest.
While the above approach sheds light on how turbulence first becomes sustained, it provides no insight into the origin of the stripes themselves. In the numerical part of the thesis we investigate how turbulent stripes form from invariant solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations. The origin of these turbulent stripes can be identified by applying concepts from the dynamical system theory. In doing so, we identify the exact coherent structures underlying stripes and their bifurcations and how they give rise to the turbulent attractor in phase space. We first report a family of localized nonlinear traveling wave solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations in channel flow. These solutions show structural similarities with turbulent stripes in experiments like obliqueness, quasi-streamwise streaks and vortices, etc. A parametric study of these traveling wave solution is performed, with parameters like Reynolds number, stripe tilt angle and domain size, including the stability of the solutions. These solutions emerge through saddle-node bifurcations and form a phase space skeleton for the turbulent stripes observed in the experiments. The lower branches of these TW solutions at different tilt angles undergo Hopf bifurcation and new solutions branches of relative periodic orbits emerge. These RPO solutions do not belong to the same family and therefore the routes to chaos for different angles are different.
In shear flows, turbulence at onset is transient in nature. Consequently,turbulence can not be tracked to lower Reynolds numbers, where the dynamics may simplify. Before this happens, turbulence becomes short-lived and laminarizes. In the last part of the thesis, we show that using numerical simulations we can continue turbulent stripes in channel flow past the 'relaminarization barrier' all the way to their origin. Here, turbulent stripe dynamics simplifies and the fluctuations are no longer stochastic and the stripe settles down to a relative periodic orbit. This relative periodic orbit originates from the aforementioned traveling wave solutions. Starting from the relative periodic orbit, a small increase in speed i.e. Reynolds number gives rise to chaos and the attractor dimension sharply increases in contrast to the classical transition scenario where the instabilities affect the flow globally and give rise to much more gradual route to turbulence.
AU - Paranjape, Chaitanya S
ID - 6957
KW - Instabilities
KW - Turbulence
KW - Nonlinear dynamics
TI - Onset of turbulence in plane Poiseuille flow
ER -