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Orientation dynamics of small, triaxial–ellipsoidal particles in isotropic turbulence

  • Laurent Chevillard (a1) and Charles Meneveau (a2)


The orientation dynamics of small anisotropic tracer particles in turbulent flows is studied using direct numerical simulation (DNS) and results are compared with Lagrangian stochastic models. Generalizing earlier analysis for axisymmetric ellipsoidal particles (Parsa et al., Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 109, 2012, 134501), we measure the orientation statistics and rotation rates of general, triaxial–ellipsoidal tracer particles using Lagrangian tracking in DNS of isotropic turbulence. Triaxial ellipsoids that are very long in one direction, very thin in another and of intermediate size in the third direction exhibit reduced rotation rates that are similar to those of rods in the ellipsoid’s longest direction, while exhibiting increased rotation rates that are similar to those of axisymmetric discs in the thinnest direction. DNS results differ significantly from the case when the particle orientations are assumed to be statistically independent from the velocity gradient tensor. They are also different from predictions of a Gaussian process for the velocity gradient tensor, which does not provide realistic preferred vorticity–strain-rate tensor alignments. DNS results are also compared with a stochastic model for the velocity gradient tensor based on the recent fluid deformation approximation (RFDA). Unlike the Gaussian model, the stochastic model accurately predicts the reduction in rotation rate in the longest direction of triaxial ellipsoids since this direction aligns with the flow’s vorticity, with its rotation perpendicular to the vorticity being reduced. For disc-like particles, or in directions perpendicular to the longest direction in triaxial particles, the model predicts noticeably smaller rotation rates than those observed in DNS, a behaviour that can be understood based on the probability of vorticity orientation with the most contracting strain-rate eigendirection in the model.


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Orientation dynamics of small, triaxial–ellipsoidal particles in isotropic turbulence

  • Laurent Chevillard (a1) and Charles Meneveau (a2)


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