The rotating-disk boundary-layer flow studied through numerical simulations

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: This thesis deals with the instabilities of the incompressible boundary-layer flow thatis induced by a disk rotating in otherwise still fluid. The results presented include bothwork in the linear and nonlinear regime and are derived from direct numerical sim-ulations (DNS). Comparisons are made both to theoretical and experimental resultsproviding new insights into the transition route to turbulence. The simulation codeNek5000 has been chosen for the DNS using a spectral-element method (SEM) witha high-order discretization, and the results were obtained through large-scale paral-lel simulations. The known similarity solution of the Navier–Stokes equations for therotating-disk flow, also called the von K ́arm ́an rotating-disk flow, is reproduced by theDNS. With the addition of modelled small simulated roughnesses on the disk surface,convective instabilities appear and data from the linear region in the DNS are anal-ysed and compared with experimental and theoretical data, all corresponding verywell. A theoretical analysis is also presented using a local linear-stability approach,where two stability solvers have been developed based on earlier work. Furthermore,the impulse response of the rotating-disk boundary layer is investigated using DNS.The local response is known to be absolutely unstable and the global response, onthe contrary, is stable if the edge of the disk is assumed to be at radius infinity. Herecomparisons with a finite domain using various boundary conditions give a globalbehaviour that can be both linearly stable and unstable, however always nonlinearlyunstable. The global frequency of the flow is found to be determined by the Rey-nolds number at the confinement of the domain, either by the edge (linear case) or bythe turbulence appearance (nonlinear case). Moreover, secondary instabilities on topof the convective instabilities induced by roughness elements were investigated andfound to be globally unstable. This behaviour agrees well with the experimental flowand acts at a smaller radial distance than the primary global instability. The sharpline corresponding to transition to turbulence seen in experiments of the rotating diskcan thus be explained by the secondary global instability. Finally, turbulence datawere compared with experiments and investigated thoroughly.