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Stabilisation and drag reduction of pipe flows by flattening the base profile

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Marensi, E 
Willis, AP 
Kerswell, RR 


Recent experimental observations (Kuehnen et al., 2018) have shown that flattening a turbulent streamwise velocity profile in pipe flow destabilises the turbulence so that the flow relaminarises. We show that a similar phenomenon exists for laminar pipe flow profiles in the sense that the nonlinear stability of the laminar state is enhanced as the profile becomes more flattened. Significant drag reduction is also observed for the turbulent flow when triggered by sufficiently large disturbances. The flattening is produced by an artificial body force designed to mimick a baffle used in the experiments of Kuehnen et al. (2018) and the nonlinear stability measured by the size of the energy of the initial perturbations needed to trigger transition. In order to make the latter computation more efficient, we examine how indicative the minimal seed for transition is in measuring transition thresholds. We first show that the minimal seed is relatively robust to base profile changes and spectral filtering. We then compare the (unforced) transition behaviour of the minimal seed with several forms of randomised initial conditions in the range of Reynolds numbers Re=2400 to 10000 and find that the energy of the minimal seed after the Orr and oblique phases of its evolution is close to that of a localised random disturbance. In this sense, the minimal seed at the end of the oblique phase can be regarded as a good proxy for typical disturbances (here taken to be the localised random ones) and is thus used as initial condition in the simulations with the body force. The enhanced nonlinear stability and drag reduction predicted in the present study are an encouraging first step in modelling the experiments of Kuehnen et al. and should motivate future developments to fully exploit the benefits of this promising direction for flow control.



transition to turbulence

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics

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Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/P001130/2)