Evolution and transition mechanisms of internal swirling flows with tangential entry

Yanxing Wang, Xingjian Wang, Vigor Yang

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13 Citations (Scopus)


The characteristics and transition mechanisms of different states of swirling flow in a cylindrical chamber have been numerically investigated using the Galerkin finite element method. The effects of the Reynolds number and swirl level were examined, and a unified theory connecting different flow states was established. The development of each flow state is considered as a result of the interaction and competition between basic mechanisms: (1) the centrifugal effect, which drives an axisymmetric central recirculation zone (CRZ); (2) flow instabilities, which develop at the free shear layer and the central solid-body rotating flow; (3) the bouncing and restoring effects of the injected flow, which facilitate the convergence of flow on the centerline and the formation of bubble-type vortex breakdown; and (4) the damping effect of the end-induced flow, which suppresses the development of the instability waves. The results show that the CRZ, together with the free shear layer on its surface, composes the basic structure of swirling flow. The development of instability waves produces a number of discrete vortex cores enclosing the CRZ. The azimuthal wave number is primarily determined by the injection angle. Generally, the wave number is smaller at a higher injection angle, due to the reduction of the perimeter of the free shear layer. At the same time, the increase in the Reynolds number facilitates the growth of the wave number. The end-induced flow tends to reduce the wave number near the head end and causes a change in wave number from the head end to the downstream region. Spiral-type vortex breakdown can be considered as a limiting case at a high injection angle, with a wave number equal to 0 near the head end and equal to 1 downstream. At lower Reynolds numbers, the bouncing and restoring effect of the injected flow generates bubble-type vortex breakdown.

Original languageEnglish
Article number013601
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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