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The effect of small-amplitude time-dependent changes to the surface morphology of a sphere

  • A. K. NORMAN (a1), E. C. KERRIGAN (a2) and B. J. McKEON (a1)


Typical approaches to manipulation of flow separation employ passive means or active techniques such as blowing and suction or plasma acceleration. Here it is demonstrated that the flow can be significantly altered by making small changes to the shape of the surface. A proof of concept experiment is performed using a very simple time-dependent perturbation to the surface of a sphere: a roughness element of 1% of the sphere diameter is moved azimuthally around a sphere surface upstream of the uncontrolled laminar separation point, with a rotational frequency as large as the vortex shedding frequency. A key finding is that the non-dimensional time to observe a large effect on the lateral force due to the perturbation produced in the sphere boundary layers as the roughness moves along the surface is = tU/D ≈ 4. This slow development allows the moving element to produce a tripped boundary layer over an extended region. It is shown that a lateral force can be produced that is as large as the drag. In addition, simultaneous particle image velocimetry and force measurements reveal that a pair of counter-rotating helical vortices are produced in the wake, which have a significant effect on the forces and greatly increase the Reynolds stresses in the wake. The relatively large perturbation to the flow-field produced by the small surface disturbance permits the construction of a phase-averaged, three-dimensional (two-velocity component) wake structure from measurements in the streamwise/radial plane. The vortical structure arising due to the roughness element has implications for flow over a sphere with a nominally smooth surface or distributed roughness. In addition, it is shown that oscillating the roughness element, or shaping its trajectory, can produce a mean lateral force.


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The effect of small-amplitude time-dependent changes to the surface morphology of a sphere

  • A. K. NORMAN (a1), E. C. KERRIGAN (a2) and B. J. McKEON (a1)


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