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Gradient trajectory analysis of a scalar field with external intermittency



The passive scalar field of a temporally evolving shear layer is investigated using gradient trajectories as a means to analyse the scalar probability density function and the conditional scalar dissipation rate in the presence of external intermittency. These results are of significance for turbulent combustion, where improved predictions of the statistics of the conditional dissipation rate are needed in several models. First, the variation of the conventional first and second moments of the conditional dissipation rate across the layer is quantitatively documented in detail. A strong dependence of the conditional dissipation rate on the lateral position and on the conditioning value of the scalar is observed. The dependence on the transverse distance to the centre-plane partially explains the double-hump profile usually reported when this dependence is ignored. The variation with the scalar observed in the ratio between the second and first moments would invalidate certain assumptions commonly done in turbulent combustion. It is also seen that conditioning on the scalar does not reduce the fluctuation of the dissipation rate with respect to unconditional values. Next, the role of external intermittency in these results is investigated. For that purpose, the flow is partitioned into different zones based on different types of gradient trajectories passing through each point, thereby introducing non-local information in comparison with the standard turbulent/non-turbulent separation based on the conventional intermittency function. In addition to the homogeneous outer regions, three zones are identified: a turbulent zone, a turbulence interface and quasi-laminar diffusion layers. The relative contribution from each of these zones to the conventional intermittency factor is reported. The statistics are then conditioned on each of these zones, and the spatial variation of the scalar distribution and of the conditional scalar dissipation rate is explained in terms of the observed zonal statistics. For the Reynolds numbers of the present simulation, between 1500 and 3000 based on the vorticity thickness and the velocity difference, and a Schmidt number equal to 1, it results that the major contribution to both statistics is due to the turbulence interfaces. At the same time, the turbulent zone shows a distinct behaviour, being approximately homogeneous but anisotropic.


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Gradient trajectory analysis of a scalar field with external intermittency



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