The stability of the Hagen-Poiseuille flow of a Newtonian fluid in a tube of radius R surrounded by an incompressible viscoelastic medium of radius R < r < HR is analysed in the high Reynolds number regime. The dimensionless numbers that affect the fluid flow are the Reynolds number Re = (ρVR / η), the ratio of the viscosities of the wall and fluid ηr = (ηs/η), the ratio of radii H and the dimensionless velocity Γ = (ρV2/G)1/2. Here ρ is the density of the fluid, G is the coefficient of elasticity of the wall and Vis the maximum fluid velocity at the centre of the tube. In the high Reynolds number regime, an asymptotic expansion in the small parameter ε = (1/Re) is employed. In the leading approximation, the viscous effects are neglected and there is a balance between the inertial stresses in the fluid and the elastic stresses in the medium. There are multiple solutions for the leading-order growth rate do), all of which are imaginary, indicating that the fluctuations are neutrally stable, since there is no viscous dissipation of energy or transfer of energy from the mean flow to the fluctruations due to the Reynolds strees.
There is an O(ε1/2) correction to the growth rate, s(1), due to the presence of a wall layer of thickness ε1/2R where the viscous stresses are O(ε1/2) smaller than the inertial stresses. An energy balance analysis indicates that the transfer of energy from the mean flow to the fluctuations due to the Reynolds stress in the wall layer is exactly cancelled by an opposite transfer of equal magnitude due to the deformation work done at the interface, and there is no net transfer from the mean flow to the fluctuations. Consequently, the fluctuations are stabilized by the viscous dissipation in the wall layer, and the real part of s(1) is negative. However, there are certain values of Γ and wavenumber k where s(l) = 0. At these points, the wail layer amplitude becomes zero because the tangential velocity boundary condition is identically satisfied by the inviscid flow solution. The real part of the O(ε) correction to the growth rate s(2) turns out to be negative at these points, indicating a small stabilizing effect due to the dissipation in the bulk of the fluid and the wall material. It is found that the minimum value of s(2) increases ∝ (H − 1)−2 for (H − 1) [Lt ] 1 (thickness of wall much less than the tube radius), and decreases ∝ (H−4 for H [Gt ] 1. The damping rate for the inviscid modes is smaller than that for the viscous wall and centre modes in a rigid tube, which have been determined previously using a singular perturbation analysis. Therefore, these are the most unstable modes in the flow through a flexible tube.