Splitting of a turbulent puff in pipe flow

Abstract : The transition to turbulence of the flow in a pipe of constant radius is numerically studied over a range of Reynolds numbers where turbulence begins to expand by puff splitting. We first focus on the case Re = 2300 where splitting occurs as discrete events. Around this value only long-lived pseudo-equilibrium puffs can be observed in practice, as typical splitting times become very long. When Re is further increased, the flow enters a more continuous puff splitting regime where turbulence spreads faster. Puff splitting presents itself as a two-step stochastic process. A splitting puff first emits a chaotic pseudopod made of azimuthally localized streaky structures at the downstream (leading) laminar-turbulent interface. This structure can later expand azimuthally as it detaches from the parent puff. Detachment results from a collapse of turbulence over the whole cross-section of the pipe. Once the process is achieved a new puff is born ahead. Large-deviation consequences of elementary stochastic processes at the scale of the streak are invoked to explain the statistical nature of splitting and the Poisson-like distributions of splitting times reported by Avila, Moxey, de Lozar, Avila, Barkley and Hof (2011 Science 333 192–196).
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Masaki Shimizu, Paul Manneville, Yohann Duguet, Genta Kawahara. Splitting of a turbulent puff in pipe flow. Fluid Dynamics Research, IOP Publishing, 2014, 46, pp.61403. ⟨10.1088/0169-5983/46/6/061403⟩. ⟨hal-01102510⟩

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