Vortex merging in a laminar separation bubble under natural and forced conditions

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Abstract

Vortex merging in a laminar separation bubble (LSB) is studied experimentally. The bubble is formed on the suction side of a NACA 0018 airfoil at an angle of attack of 4° and a Reynolds number of 125 000. The merging process in the bubble is manipulated through acoustic forcing applied as a tone at either the fundamental vortex shedding frequency or at the first subharmonic of this frequency. The flow field is assessed using time-resolved, two-component particle image velocimetry. A method for detecting merged structures using wavelet analysis is introduced, allowing for reliable quantification of merging events. The results show that vortex merging occurs naturally in the separation bubble, while forcing at the subharmonic and fundamental frequencies promotes and inhibits merging, respectively. While these trends are similar to those observed for free shear layers, the subharmonic forcing of an LSB is found to directly promote disturbance development at the subharmonic frequency. For all cases, the majority of merging events take place in the aft portion of the bubble, i.e., downstream from the maximum bubble height location and upstream of mean reattachment, with subharmonic forcing causing merging to shift upstream. The merged structures are found to be the most energetic flow features; however, promoting vortex merging through subharmonic forcing does not lead to significant changes in the mean bubble topology. The spanwise behavior of the vortex merging process is studied, revealing that structures merge in a spanwise nonuniform manner, with localized merging occurring away from where forward or rearward streamwise bugles develop in the vortex filaments. Statistical characterization reveals that merging tends to occur more often over some specific spanwise segments, with the number of primary structures that merge varying by as much as 50% between spanwise locations. These findings offer insight into vortex merging in laminar separation bubbles and the attendant influence of forcing, while also highlighting the need to consider spanwise aspects of flow development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number063903
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Volume4
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2019

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