Turbulence in a Localized Puff in a Pipe

Alexander Yakhot, Yuri Feldman, David Moxey, Spencer Sherwin, George Em Karniadakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have performed direct numerical simulations of a spatio-temporally intermittent flow in a pipe for Rem = 2250. From previous experiments and simulations of pipe flow, this value has been estimated as a threshold when the average speeds of upstream and downstream fronts of a puff are identical (Barkley et al., Nature 526, 550–553, 2015; Barkley et al., 2015). We investigated the structure of an individual puff by considering three-dimensional snapshots over a long time period. To assimilate the velocity data, we applied a conditional sampling based on the location of the maximum energy of the transverse (turbulent) motion. Specifically, at each time instance, we followed a turbulent puff by a three-dimensional moving window centered at that location. We collected a snapshot-ensemble (10000 time instances, snapshots) of the velocity fields acquired over T = 2000D/U time interval inside the moving window. The cross-plane velocity field inside the puff showed the dynamics of a developing turbulence. In particular, the analysis of the cross-plane radial motion yielded the illustration of the production of turbulent kinetic energy directly from the mean flow. A snapshot-ensemble averaging over 10000 snapshots revealed azimuthally arranged large-scale (coherent) structures indicating near-wall sweep and ejection activity. The localized puff is about 15-17 pipe diameters long and the flow regime upstream of its upstream edge and downstream of its leading edge is almost laminar. In the near-wall region, despite the low Reynolds number, the turbulence statistics, in particular, the distribution of turbulence intensities, Reynolds shear stress, skewness and flatness factors, become similar to a fully-developed turbulent pipe flow in the vicinity of the puff upstream edge. In the puff core, the velocity profile becomes flat and logarithmic. It is shown that this “fully-developed turbulent flash” is very narrow being about two pipe diameters long.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalFlow, Turbulence and Combustion
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Pipe flow
  • Puff
  • Transition to turbulence

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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