The flow development in a groove-modified channel consisting of flat and grooved walls was investigated by direct numerical simulations based on the Navier–Stokes equations at a Reynolds number of
based on the full channel height and the bulk velocity. Simulations were performed for highly disturbed initial flow conditions leading to the almost instantaneous appearance of turbulence in channels with flat walls. The surface morphology was designed in the form of profiled grooves aligned with the flow direction and embedded in the wall. Such grooves are presumed to allow development of only the statistically axisymmetric disturbances. In contrast to the rapid production of turbulence along a flat wall, it was found that such development was suppressed over a grooved wall for a remarkably long period of time. Owing to the difference in the flow structure, friction drag over the grooved wall was more than 60 % lower than that over the flat wall. Anisotropy-invariant mapping supports the conclusion, emerging from analytic considerations, that persistence of the laminar regime is due to statistical axisymmetry in the velocity fluctuations. Complementary investigations of turbulent drag reduction in grooved channels demonstrated that promotion of such a state across the entire wetted surface is required to stabilize flow and prevent transition and breakdown to turbulence. To support the results of numerical investigations, measurements in groove-modified channel flow were performed. Comparisons of the pressure differentials measured along flat and groove-modified channels reveal a skin-friction reduction as large as
owing to the extended persistence of the laminar flow compared with flow development in a flat channel. These experiments demonstrate that early stabilization of the laminar boundary layer development with a grooved surface promotes drag reduction in a fully turbulent flow with a preserving magnitude as the Reynolds number increases.