Book chapters will be unavailable on Saturday 24th August between 8am-12pm BST. This is for essential maintenance which will provide improved performance going forwards. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.
The linear stability of the horizontal pipe flow of an equal density oil–water mixture, arranged as a core–annular flow (CAF), is here reconsidered from the point of view of non-modal analysis in order to assess the effects of non-normality of the linearized Navier–Stokes operator on the transient evolution of small disturbances. The aim of this investigation is to give insight into physical situations in which poor agreement occurs between the predictions of linear modal theory and classical experiments. The results exhibit high transient amplifications of the energy of three-dimensional perturbations and, in analogy with single-fluid pipe flow, the largest amplifications arise for non-axisymmetric disturbances of vanishing axial wavenumber. Energy analysis shows that the mechanisms leading to these transient phenomena mostly occur in the annulus, occupied by the less viscous fluid. Consequently, higher values of energy amplifications are obtained by increasing the gap between the core and the pipe wall and the annular Reynolds number. It is argued that these linear transient mechanisms of disturbance amplification play a key role in explaining the transition to turbulence of CAF.