Turbulent flow separation in three-dimensional asymmetric diffusers

Jeyapaul, Elbert
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Aerospace Engineering
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Turbulent three-dimensional flow separation is more complicated than 2-D. The physics of the flow is not well understood. Turbulent flow separation is nearly independent of the Reynolds number, and separation in 3-D occurs at singular points and along convergence lines emanating from these points. Most of the engineering turbulence research is driven by the need to gain knowledge of the flow field that can be used to improve modeling predictions. This work is motivated by the need for a detailed study of 3-D separation in asymmetric diffusers, to understand the separation phenomena using eddy-resolving simulation methods, assess the predictability of existing RANS turbulence models and propose modeling improvements. The Cherry diffuser has been used as a benchmark. All existing linear eddy-viscosity RANS models $k-\omega$ SST,$k-\epsilon$ and $v^2-f$ fail in predicting such flows, predicting separation on the wrong side. The geometry has a doubly-sloped wall, with the other two walls orthogonal to each other and aligned with the diffuser inlet giving the diffuser an asymmetry. The top and side flare angles are different and this gives rise to different pressure gradient in each transverse direction. Eddy-resolving simulations using the Scale adaptive simulation (SAS) and Large Eddy Simulation (LES) method have been used to predict separation in benchmark diffuser and validated. A series of diffusers with the same configuration have been generated, each having the same streamwise pressure gradient and parametrized only by the inlet aspect ratio. The RANS models were put to test and the flow physics explored using SAS-generated flow field. The RANS model indicate a transition in separation surface from top sloped wall to the side sloped wall at an inlet aspect ratio much lower than observed in LES results. This over-sensitivity of RANS models to transverse pressure gradients is due to lack of anisotropy in the linear Reynolds stress formulation. The complexity of the flow separation is due to effects of lateral straining, streamline curvature, secondary flow of second kind, transverse pressure gradient on turbulence. Resolving these effects is possible with anisotropy turbulence models as the Explicit Algebraic Reynolds stress model (EARSM). This model has provided accurate prediction of streamwise and transverse velocity, however the wall pressure is under predicted. An improved EARSM model is developed by correcting the coefficients, which predicts a more accurate wall pressure. There exists scope for improvement of this model, by including convective effects and dynamics of velocity gradient invariants.

EARSM, separation, turbulence