A study of a 3-D double backward facing step


C. E. Tinney and Ukeiley, L. S., “A study of a 3-D double backward facing step,” Experiments in Fluids, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 427–438, 2009.


An investigation of the flow over a three-dimensional (3-D) double backward-facing step is presented using a combination of both quantitative measurements from a particle image velocimetry (PIV) system and qualitative oil-flow visualizations. The arrangement of the PIV instrument allows for snap-shots of the (x, y) and (y, z) planes at various axial and spanwise positions. The measurements illustrate characteristics that are found in both two-dimensional (2-D) backward-facing steps and 3-D flows around wall mounted cubes. In particular, the development of a horseshoe vortex is found after each step alongside other vortical motions introduced by the geometry of the model. Large turbulence levels are found to be confined to a region in the center of the backstep; their mean square levels being much larger than what has been observed in 2-D backward-facing steps. The large turbulent fluctuations are attributed to a quasi-periodic shedding of the horseshoe vortex as it continuously draws energy from the spiral nodes of separation, which form to create the base of the horseshoe vortex. A combination of effects including the shedding of the first horseshoe vortex, the horizontal entrainment of air and the presence of two counter rotating vortices initiated at reattachment, are shown to cause the steering vector of the flow to jettison away from the surface in the first redeveloping region and along the center at z/h = 0. Oil-flow visualizations confirm these observations.


DOI 10.1007/s00348-009-0675-9: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00348-009-0675-9