Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 February 2018
Kinetic energy transfer in compressible isotropic turbulence is studied using numerical simulations with solenoidal forcing at turbulent Mach numbers ranging from 0.4 to 1.0 and at a Taylor Reynolds number of approximately 250. The pressure dilatation plays an important role in the local conversion between kinetic energy and internal energy, but its net contribution to the average kinetic energy transfer is negligibly small, due to the cancellation between compression and expansion work. The right tail of probability density function (PDF) of the subgrid-scale (SGS) flux of kinetic energy is found to be longer at higher turbulent Mach numbers. With an increase of the turbulent Mach number, compression motions enhance the positive SGS flux, and expansion motions enhance the negative SGS flux. Average of SGS flux conditioned on the filtered velocity divergence is studied by numerical analysis and a heuristic model. The conditional average of SGS flux is shown to be proportional to the square of filtered velocity divergence in strong compression regions for turbulent Mach numbers from 0.6 to 1.0. Moreover, the antiparallel alignment between the large-scale strain and the SGS stress is observed in strong compression regions. The inter-scale transfer of solenoidal and compressible components of kinetic energy is investigated by Helmholtz decomposition. The SGS flux of solenoidal kinetic energy is insensitive to the change of turbulent Mach number, while the SGS flux of compressible kinetic energy increases drastically as the turbulent Mach number becomes larger. The compressible mode persistently absorbs energy from the solenoidal mode through nonlinear advection. The kinetic energy of the compressible mode is transferred from large scales to small scales through the compressible SGS flux, and is dissipated by viscosity at small scales.