Experimental assessment of square-wave spatial spanwise forcing of a turbulent boundary layer

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We present an experimental realisation of spatial spanwise forcing in a turbulent boundary layer flow, aimed at reducing the frictional drag. The forcing is achieved by a series of spanwise running belts, running in alternating spanwise direction, thereby generating a steady spatial square-wave forcing. Stereoscopic particle image velocimetry in the streamwise–wall-normal plane is used to investigate the impact of actuation on the flow in terms of turbulence statistics, drag performance characteristics, and spanwise velocity profiles, for a non-dimensional wavelength of λx+=397. In line with reported numerical studies, we confirm that a significant flow control effect can be realised with this type of forcing. The scalar fields of the higher-order turbulence statistics show a strong attenuation of stresses and production of turbulence kinetic energy over the first belt already, followed by a more gradual decrease to a steady-state energy response over the second belt. The streamwise velocity in the near-wall region is reduced, indicative of a drag-reduced flow state. The profiles of the higher-order turbulence statistics are attenuated up to a wall-normal height of y+≈100, with a maximum streamwise stress reduction of 45% and a reduction of integral turbulence kinetic energy production of 39%, for a non-dimensional actuation amplitude of A+=12.7. An extension of the classical laminar Stokes layer theory is introduced, based on the linear superposition of Fourier modes, to describe the non-sinusoidal boundary condition that corresponds to the current case. The experimentally obtained spanwise velocity profiles show good agreement with this extended theoretical model. The drag reduction was estimated from a linear fit in the viscous sublayer in the range 2≤y+≤5. The results are found to be in good qualitative agreement with the numerical implementations of Viotti et al. (Phys Fluids 21, 2009), matching the drag reduction trend with A+, and reaching a maximum of 20%. Graphical abstract: (Figure presented.)

Original languageEnglish
Article number65
Number of pages16
JournalExperiments in Fluids
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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