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Mixing and dissipation in particle-driven gravity currents

  • F. NECKER (a1), C. HÄRTEL (a1), L. KLEISER (a1) and E. MEIBURG (a2)


Results are presented from a high-resolution computational study of particle-driven gravity currents in a plane channel. The investigation was conducted in order to obtain better insight into the energy budget and the mixing behaviour of such flows. Two- and three-dimensional simulations are discussed, and the effects of different factors influencing the flow are examined in detail. Among these are the aspect ratio of the initial suspension reservoir, the settling speed of the particles, and the initial level of turbulence in the suspension. While most of the study is concerned with the lock-exchange configuration, where the initial height of the suspension layer is equal to the height of the channel, part of the analysis is also done for a deeply submerged case. Here, the suspension layer is only one-tenth of the full channel height. Concerning the energy budget, a careful analysis is undertaken of dissipative losses in the flow. Dissipative losses arising from the macroscopic fluid motion are distinguished from those due to the microscopic flow around each sedimenting particle. It is found that over a large range of settling velocities and suspension reservoir aspect ratios, sedimentation accounts for roughly half of all dissipative losses. The analysis of the mixing behaviour of the flow concentrates on the mixing between interstitial and ambient fluid, which are taken to be of identical density. The former is assumed to carry a passive contaminant, whose dispersion with time is analysed qualitatively and quantitatively by means of Lagrangian markers. The simulations show the mixing between interstitial and ambient fluid to be more intense for larger values of the particle settling velocity. Finally, the question is addressed of whether or not initial turbulence in the suspension may exert a significant effect on the flow evolution. To this end, results from three simulations with widely different levels of initial kinetic energy are compared. While the initial turbulence level strongly affects the mixing within the current, it has only a small influence on the front velocity and the overall sedimentation rate.


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Mixing and dissipation in particle-driven gravity currents

  • F. NECKER (a1), C. HÄRTEL (a1), L. KLEISER (a1) and E. MEIBURG (a2)


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