Small scale dynamics of a shearless turbulent/non-turbulent interface in dilute polymer solutions

G. Cocconi, E. De Angelis, B. Frohnapfel, M. Baevsky, A. Liberzon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the physics of the turbulent/non-turbulent interface (TNTI) of an isolated turbulent region in dilute polymer solutions and Newtonian fluids. We designed an experimental setup of a turbulent patch growing in water/dilute polymer solutions, without mean shear and far from the walls. The observations from the experiments are complemented and expanded by simulations performed using a localised homogeneous forcing to generate the turbulent front and the Finitely Extensible Elastic model with the Peterlin closure model for the polymer stress. The comparison, which shows that when Newtonian and viscoelastic TNTIs are fed by the same energy they behave in similar manner both in the experiments and in the simulations, permits to extend the applicability, on a qualitative basis, of single relaxation time polymer models also to turbulent/non-turbulent interfaces. From the detailed analysis offered by the numerical results, the alterations in the dynamics between strain and vorticity help understanding the mechanics of the polymer action on the TNTI without mean shear. The reduced vorticity stretching and increased vorticity compression terms are found to be due to the modified degrees of alignment between vorticity, polymer conformation tensor, and rate-of-strain tensor eigenvectors observed especially near the interface. These alignments at the smallest scales of the non-Newtonian turbulent flow lead to a reduced production of enstrophy and consequently to a reduced entrainment, which in this problem are seen as reduced advancement of a turbulent region.

Original languageEnglish
Article number075102
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2017


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