An experimental study of edge effects on rotating-disk transition

Authors: Imayama, S.I., Alfredsson, P.H., Lingwood, R. J.
Document Type: Article
Pubstate: Published
Journal: J. Fluid Mech.
Volume: 716   638-657
Year: 2013


The onset of transition for the rotating-disk flow was identified by Lingwood (J. Fluid. Mech., vol. 299, 1995, pp. 17–33) as being highly reproducible, which motivated her to look for absolute instability of the boundary-layer flow; the flow was found to be locally absolutely unstable above a Reynolds number of 507. Global instability, if associated with laminar–turbulent transition, implies that the onset of transition should be highly repeatable across different experimental facilities. While it has previously been shown that local absolute instability does not necessarily lead to linear global instability: Healey (J. Fluid. Mech., vol. 663, 2010, pp. 148–159) has shown, using the linearized complex Ginzburg–Landau equation, that if the finite nature of the flow domain is accounted for, then local absolute instability can give rise to linear global instability and lead directly to a nonlinear global mode. Healey (J. Fluid. Mech., vol. 663, 2010, pp. 148–159) also showed that there is a weak stabilizing effect as the steep front to the nonlinear global mode approaches the edge of the disk, and suggested that this might explain some reports of slightly higher transition Reynolds numbers, when located close to the edge. Here we look closely at the effects the edge of the disk have on laminar–turbulent transition of the rotating-disk boundary-layer flow. We present data for three different edge configurations and various edge Reynolds numbers, which show no obvious variation in the transition Reynolds number due to proximity to the edge of the disk. These data, together with the application (as far as possible) of a consistent definition for the onset of transition to others’ results, reduce the already relatively small scatter in reported transition Reynolds numbers, suggesting even greater reproducibility than previously thought for ‘clean’ disk experiments. The present results suggest that the finite nature of the disk, present in all real experiments, may indeed, as Healey (J. Fluid. Mech., vol. 663, 2010, pp. 148–159) suggests, lead to linear global instability as a first step in the onset of transition but we have not been able to verify a correlation between the transition Reynolds number and edge Reynolds number.