Turbulence attenuation in simultaneously heated and cooled annular flows at supercritical pressure

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Heated or cooled fluids at supercritical pressure show large variations in thermophysical properties, such as the density, dynamic viscosity and molecular Prandtl number, which strongly influence turbulence characteristics. To investigate this, direct numerical simulations were performed of a turbulent flow at supercritical pressure (CO2 at 8 MPa) in an annulus with a hot inner wall and a cold outer wall. The pseudo-critical temperature lies close to the inner wall, which results in strong thermophysical property variations in that region. The turbulent shear stress and the turbulent intensities significantly decrease near the hot inner wall, but increase near the cold outer wall, which can be partially attributed to the mean dynamic viscosity and density stratification. This leads to decreased production of turbulent kinetic energy near the inner wall and vice versa near the outer wall. However, by analysing a transport equation for the coherent streak flank strength, it was found that thermophysical property fluctuations significantly affect streak evolution. Near the hot wall, thermal expansion and buoyancy tend to decrease streak coherence, while the viscosity gradient that exists across the streaks interacts with mean shear to act as either a source or a sink in the evolution equation for the coherent streak flank strength. The formation of streamwise vortices on the other hand is hindered by the torque that is the result of the kinetic energy and density gradients. Near the cold wall, the results are reversed, i.e. the coherent streak flank strength and the streamwise vortices are enhanced due to the variable density and dynamic viscosity. The results show that not only the mean stratification but also the large instantaneous thermophysical property variations that occur in heated or cooled fluids at supercritical pressure have a significant effect on turbulent structures that are responsible for the self-regeneration process in near-wall turbulence. Thus, instantaneous density and dynamic viscosity fluctuations are responsible for decreased (or increased) turbulent motions in heated (or cooled) fluids at supercritical pressure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-540
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • turbulent flows
  • turbulence simulation

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