PhD project: Transition to Turbulence

Project description

Transition to turbulence in pipes and straight channels is one of the last outstanding problems in classical physics. When fluid's velocity exceeds some critical value, the flow abruptly becomes very irregular. For a long time it was believed that this irregularity was completely random and structureless, thus escaping any attempts of theoretical understanding.

Recently, however, it was discovered that at least close to the transition the turbulent dynamics are governed by a relatively small number of very regular spatial patterns (coherent structures). This discovery completely alters our understanding of the transition and explains/predicts new exciting features of turbulent flows [1].

The "dynamical systems" picture of turbulence is very new and relatively little is understood of the actual mechanism of the transition. You will use low-dimensional models designed to reproduce the main features of the transition to turbulence to study properties of the turbulent phase space, sudden relaminarisation and the phenomenon of drag reduction observed when small amounts of long flexible polymers are added to the flow. The project will be a combination of computational and analytical techniques with an initial emphasis on the former.

[1] How does flow in a pipe become turbulent? B. Eckhardt and T. M. Schneider, European Physical Journal B 64, 457 (2008).

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