The objective of this study was to make velocity measurements in drag-reducing flows which would be sufficient in scope and accuracy to test proposed models of drag-reducing flows and to yield new information about the mechanisms of drag reduction. Consequently, measurements of the mean and turbulence intensity of the streamwise velocity component were made in fully developed, turbulent, drag-reducing flow in a two-dimensional channel with a laser-Doppler anemometer. The anemometer was operated in the individual-realization mode and corrections were made to eliminate statistical biasing of the data. Two polyacrylamides and a polyethylene oxide were used to produce seven flows which had drag reductions ranging from 24 to 41 %. Measurements were also made in water to establish the standard characteristics of the flow channel.
The data show that the drag-reducing mean velocity profile can be divided into three zones: a viscous sublayer, a buffer or interactive region and a logarithmic region. There is no evidence that the viscous sublayers of the drag-reducing channel flows are thicker than those in the solvent flows. In addition the normalized streamwise fluctuations are essentially the same in both the solvent and drag-reducing sublayers. The changes caused by the polymer addition occur in the buffer region. The drag-reducing buffer region is thicker and the velocity profile in the outer flow region adjusts in order to accommodate this buffer-region thickening. The measurements of the streamwise velocity fluctuations also show that the polymer additives redistribute the primary turbulent activity over a broadened buffer region. The normalized magnitude of these fluctuations is, however, considerably lower in these two-dimensional drag-reducing channel flows than in those previously reported by Rudd (1972), Logan (1972) and Kumor & Sylvester (1973). Moreover, the mean velocity profiles in the buffer region do not confirm the hypothesis of Virk, Mickley & Smith (1970) that the data will follow their proposed ‘ultimate profile’ when the drag reduction is less than that given by the maximum asymptote. The mean velocity measurements also show that the proposed methods for predicting the upward shift in the outer portion of the mean velocity profile are inconsistent and lack universality. However, these results do confirm the previous suggestions of Virk (1971), Tomita (1970) and Lumley (1973) that the buffer region is the area of importance and change in drag-reducing flows.