Unravelling the mechanism behind Swirl-Switching in turbulent bent pipes

Authors: Schlatter, P., Hufnagel, , Canton, J.C., Örlü, R., Marin, O., Merzari , 
Document Type: Conference
Pubstate: Published
Journal: 69th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, Nov. 20–22, 2016, Portland, OR
Year: 2016


Turbulent flow through pipe bends has been extensively studied, but several phenomena still miss an exhaustive explanation. Due to centrifugal forces, the fluid flowing through a curved pipe forms two symmetric, counter-rotating Dean vortices. It has been observed, experimentally and numerically, that these vortices change their size, intensity and axis in a periodic, oscillatory fashion, a phenomenon known as swirl-switching. These oscillations are responsible for failure due to fatigue in pipes, and their origin has been attributed to a recirculation bubble, disturbances coming from the upstream straight section and others. The present study tackles the problem by direct numerical simulations (DNS) analysed, for the first time, with three-dimensional proper orthogonal decomposition (POD) as to distinguish between the spatial and temporal contributions. The simulations are performed at a friction Reynolds number of about 360 with a divergence-free synthetic turbulence inflow, as to avoid the interference of low-frequency oscillations generated by a standard recycling method. Results indicate that a single low-frequency, three- imensional POD mode, representing a travelling wave, and previously mistaken by 2D POD for two different modes, is responsible for the swirl-switching.