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The numerical simulation of industrial
flows is an increasingly important means
to solve a large variety of fluid flow
problems, such as internal flows, external
aerodynamics, spray cooling, film coating,
environmental and biological flows, and
power generation. Several general-
purpose codes are available at VKI and
are used to model a wide range of fluid
flow processes including turbulence, heat
transfer, multiphase flows, chemistry, etc.
The von Karman Institute is working in
collaboration with several companies to
examine the fundamental and applied
aspects of these processes and to provide
efficient tools to aid industry in decision-
2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
The numerical simulation of industrial flows is an in-
creasingly important means to solve a wide variety of
fluid flow problems such as internal flows, external
aerodynamics, spray cooling, film coating, environ-
mental and biological flows, and power generation.
Several general-purpose codes and a large number of
specific VKI codes are now available for industrial flow
applications at the Institute. They model a wide range
of fluid flow processes including turbulence, heat
transfer, multiple phases, compressible flows and
chemistry and can be applied to complex flows in-
cluding free-surfaces and porous media. When used
to provide fast, reliable and low cost solutions of en-
gineering flow problems, they become efficient tools
to aid industry in decision-making and the preparation
of sophisticated and costly experimental tests. A se-
lection of typical fluid dynamic problems to which nu-
merical approaches have been applied at the VKI is
presented here to illustrate the applicability of such a
methodology to the industrial and engineering fields.
Comparisons with experimental data are also made
for some of the applications.
The computation of heat transfer by an impinging air
jet is an important research activity with two major in-
dustrial projects that will each involve experimental
validation. An impinging jet is an interesting means
to increase heat and/or mass transfer rates.
The first project deals with the cooling of fast-moving
steel sheets by multiple jets. Numerical simulations
have been performed for the investigation of the ef-
fect of the jet Reynolds number, stand-off distance, jet
spacing and jet angle on the mean heat transfer coef-
ficient on the steel strip. Figure 1 shows a typical re-
sult of the influence of the strip velocity on the flow
structure between the jets.
The second project concerns the design of a thermal
anti-icing system for the leading edge of a commer-
cial aircraft and has been undertaken on the basis of
numerical simulations. The anti-icing system is com-
posed of impinging hot jets and also of hot air chan-
nels located below the surface of the wing (double
skin). The numerical results has been compared with
experimental measurements using infrared thermog-
The ventilation of a filling tunnel used in
the pharmaceutical industry has also been investigat-
ed numerically. The main objective is to identify the
occurrence of flow recirculation in the tunnel and to
limit such a phenomenon by proposing modifications
of the design to improve the flow uniformity. A typi-
cal result showing velocity magnitude in different
planes is given in Figure 2.
The two-phase flow in an airlift reactor configuration
is analysed using the two-phase models of the com-
mercial code FLUENT. The airlift reactor consists of an
upcomer and a downcomer with equal cross-section.
The distance between the bottom and the middle sep-
arating wall is kept constant.
Numerical Simulation of Industrial Flows
96 2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
Figure 1: Influence of a moving strip
on the flow structure
Figure 2: Velocity
magnitude in the tunnel
Figure 3: Void fraction and velocity
magnitude in an airlift reactor
The distance between the upper end of the mid-
dle wall and the free surface is varied during the
study. Air is injected through holes in two hori-
zontal pipes at the lower end of the upcomer.
Results of void fraction and velocity magnitude
are shown in Figure 3. The highest values for the
void fraction are obtained at the injection and
also close to the free surface where air is escap-
ing. Velocity magnitude obtained by numerical
simulation shows the airlift produced by the
bubbles and will be compared with experimen-
tal data.
Due to international regulations concerning the
reduction of solvent-based painting, powder
coating becomes a very attractive process. In
such a process fine solid particles of paint are
transported by a gas flow over a moving strip.
The VKI has been involved in the numerical sim-
ulation of such a complex technique. In a first phase,
the study is focused on the influence of the speed of
the moving strip, the gas flow rate and the geometri-
cal parameters such as the width and the thickness of
the strip on the flow structure within the channel.
Numerical simulations are also used for the design of
complex three-dimensional flow systems as shown in
Figure 4. In this study, different geometrical configu-
rations have been simulated and compared. The ob-
jective is to have a uniform velocity profile at the out-
lets of the nine horizontal slits shown in the figure.
Porous material and deflectors have been added to the
geometry to obtain the required results.
One of the key objectives for building designers is to
maximise glare-free natural daylight in buildings while
minimizing solar heat gain. External solar shading re-
duces the amount of direct solar heat gain thereby re-
ducing the building's cooling requirements. To study
wind effects on window shades, a series of full-scale
tests were performed in the L-1 wind tunnel on a so-
lar protection system. Numerical simulations have
been performed to gain a better understanding of the
unsteady flow field around a single shade
and around a set of sun pro-
tection shades. Figure 5 shows
the velocity magnitude and lift
coefficient for two different
time steps corresponding to two ex-
tremes values of lift coefficient.
The residence time in a chemical
tank has been computed and
analysed. Particles have been
tracked inside the tank in order to
have a histogram of their transit
time. These values have been com-
pared with experimental data com-
ing from the industrial site. The
geometry of the tank is com-
plex and consists of different
side tubes for the inlet and out-
let of the various products. The
surface grid of the tank is repre-
sented in Figure 6.
Figure 6: Surface grid of the tank
Numerical Simulation of Industrial Flows
97 2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
Figure 4: Surface grid of a complex
three-dimensional geometry
Figure 5: Unsteady flow field around a sun
protection device
With the continuous increase in operating speeds of
high speed trains, several problems arise when trains
enter confined areas (tunnel, train station). It is well
know that a train passing through a tunnel generates
pressure waves that propagate back and forth to the
portals where they are reflected. The resulting tran-
sient pressure may affect passenger comfort and
cause damage on certain elements of the train.
Numerical simulations are therefore performed to de-
sign airshafts located inside the wall of the tunnel to
reduce the pressure wave. Three-dimensional tran-
sient simulations are performed using the geometry
of a typical high-speed train as shown in Figure 7.
In collaboration with the
International Polar Foundation,
the VKI is carrying out the aerody-
namic design of the future Belgian Antarctic Research
Station. The station will be built on a small granite
ridge at an elevation of less than 20m above the sur-
rounding snow surface. Wind tunnel tests are per-
formed to asses snow drift and snow erosion.
Numerical simulations are used to determine the wind
load on different parts of the building. Contours of the
pressure distribution, C
, are shown in Figure 8 for a
typical orientation of the buildling on the ridge.
Numerical Simulation of Industrial Flows
98 2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
Figure 7: surface
mesh of a typical
high-speed train
Figure 8: contours of C
on the polar station
The VKI has considerable experience in
investigating heat transfer in various
complex flow systems. The latest applica-
tions are related to fast cooling of moving
steel sheets, the anti-icing of aircraft,
compact heat exchangers and powder
coating processes. In recent years, VKI has
maintained a continuing effort on the
development of an in-house LES code
(MIOMA) to study in depth the mechanisms
of turbulent transport. The application of
Multi-Domain techniques made possible
the simulation of the flow around 3D
bluff bodies. Advanced post-processing
algorithms were also developed to detect
coherent structures from CFD or PIV results
and extract statistical information from this
2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
Turbulent Flow and Heat Transfer
Research in heat transfer in complex situations such
as impinging gas jets, flow over ribbed surfaces, and
compact heat exchangers has been pursued. The ap-
plications under concern are fast cooling of moving
steel sheets, the anti-icing of aircraft and the powder
coating process.
The study of design parameters allowing the optimi-
sation of a gas cooling system based on multiple im-
pinging jets has been carried out on a test facility sim-
ulating at scale 2:3 a real industrial fast cooling system
[MP17]. The local and mean convective heat transfer
coefficients in an arrangement of gas slot nozzles have
been determined by means of infrared thermography
combined with the thin heated foil technique [MP48].
The study aims at determining the effect on the aver-
age heat transfer coefficient of the slot Reynolds num-
ber up to a value of 100000, with the nozzle spacing
normalised by the slot hydraulic diameter from 6 to
18, the normalised nozzle emergence length, E/S, from
5 to 17, and the normalised nozzle-to-strip standoff dis-
tance Z/S from 3 to 10. The geometrical arrangements
tested include perpendicular (90) and tilted (60) noz-
zles. Typical IR thermogrammes shown (Figure 1) are
a faithful depiction of the impinging flow pattern ac-
cording to the system design.
At large W/S-values (Figure 1a), the low spanwise dis-
tortion of the isotherm contours denotes the two-di-
mensional character of the impinging flow. For a jet
configuration characterised by small W/S-values, as
featured by Figure 1b, a jet-merging phenomenon is
observed and the local distribution of the heat trans-
fer coefficient does not mimic the nozzle arrangement
The axial distribution of the Nusselt number, Nu,
based on the hydraulic slot diameter, S, and corre-
sponding to the jet arrangement of Figure 1a, is plot-
ted in Figure 2. Peaks of Nusselt number of 400 and
more can be reached at the impingement of the
peripheral perpendicular jets. However, the two
60-tilted jets, designed to create additional moving
strip stabilisation yield a lower cooling.
Three-dimensional numerical simulations have been
performed with the code Fluent. The meshing consists
of typically 500000 hexahedral cells. Simulations are
conducted on half of the domain taking advantage of
the symmetry plane. A k- turbulence model with wall
functions is used for the computations. The boundary
conditions are imposed based on the experimental
data (temperature, velocity, heat flux).
After validation from comparison with the laboratory
IR results, the numerical model has been applied to
industrial situations [AJ30]. In particular, it can illus-
trate the enhancement of the heat transfer produced
Figure 1: IR mapping of the temperature field
Figure 2: Streamwise Nusselt number distribution
Figure 3: Effect of H
mixture on the heat
transfer coefficient obtained with Fluent
using k- model
2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
Turbulent Flow and Heat Transfer
by using a H
gas mixture instead of air. Such an
investigation would be difficult in the pilot facility for
safety considerations, but can easily be approached
with CFD. Figure 3 shows the axial distribution of the
heat transfer coefficient obtained for 5% and 60% H
respectively, as normalised by the heat transfer coef-
ficient for air only. The increase of hydrogen content
has a strong effect on the heat transfer rate, particu-
larly in the impingement region. At constant Reynolds
number, using 30% H
may readily double the cooling
Instead of a steady k- turbulence model, a more ad-
vanced simulation of the turbulence is obtained with
the Large Eddy approach which is providing a large
amount of unsteady results. This approach is now ma-
ture enough to be extensively used and proposed.
In Figure 4, an example of in-
stantaneous temperature con-
tours on a plate cooled by a
round and cold turbulent jet is
presented [MP136].
Such round jets are also used in recent designs of anti-
icing systems for the wing and tail surfaces of air-
planes. In this technique, hot round jets are issued
from a perforated supply duct, called a piccolo. The hot
air flowing on the inner surfaces of the skin prevents
ice formation on the leading edge and subsequently
on the wing upper surface through a double skin sec-
tion when severe atmospheric flight conditions are ex-
perienced. Another concept based on effusive heating
through a porous skin section is also considered. Such
thermal de-icing systems have been studied at the VKI
via experimental approaches involving infrared ther-
mography and numerical simulations.
The experimental investigation of a full-scale imping-
ing round jet system was performed on a leading edge
section of an aircraft wing. Figure 5 gives a view of the
actual model used. Different operating conditions and
geometries of the multiple jet system were tested to
determine heat transfer correlations and optimise the
de-icing performance.
Three-dimensional numerical simulations of the
aerothermal behaviour of the multiple jet system have
also been performed numerically to make a predesign
of the de-icing configuration. The standard steady vis-
cous equations are solved in combination with a k-
turbulence model. Figure 6 shows typical mappings
of the heat transfer coefficient on the leading edge
skin for two piccolo designs.
Research involving heat transfer in confined flow is
also pursued. A heated double skin section of the
wing upper surface consists in a kind of plate heat
exchanger made of two metallic plates sandwiching
small aluminium slats to form seven parallel slit-type
channels, 0.3m long and 0.02m wide. The channel height
may vary from 0.001 to 0.002m, respectively. The top
wall is modelled by a thin heated thermofoil while the
bottom wall is insulated. Air at laboratory room
temperature is blown uniformly through the double
skin at chan-
nel Reynolds
n u m b e r s
ranging from
2700 to 6700.
Local heat
transfer is in-
ferred from
the constant
heat flux and
the surface
is measured
by infrared
Figure 4:
Large Eddy
Simulation of an
impinging jet
Black contours:
temperature in z = 0 plane
Colour flooded contours:
temperature on the plate
Figure 5: Aerothermal de-icing model
Figure 6: Typical CFD simulation
of aerothermal de-icing per-
formance obtained with Fluent,
using k- model
101 2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
Turbulent Flow and Heat Transfer
IR thermogrammes indicate that the heat flow is uni-
directional and that the data reduction can be per-
formed considering the streamwise evolution of the
temperature along a line located in the centre part of
the specimen.
Figure 7 shows the axial evolution of the local Nusselt
number based on the hydraulic diameter of the chan-
nel for the specimen of aspect ratio equal to 0.05
[MP50]. At a Reynolds number corresponding to the
laminar regime (Re = 2790) the decrease of the Nusselt
number with the streamwise distance is consistent
with the thermal boundary layer development [MP51].
The plateau value, which denotes fully developed
flow, agrees perfectly with the Nu value of 8.24 pre-
dicted for laminar flow between infinite parallel plates
and its streamwise location x/D
= 80 compares well
with the literature. The subsequent drop at the end of
the specimen denotes an effect of the exit design in-
volving holes drilled through the bottom plate before
the end of the channels.
An efficient way to control the thermal behaviour of a
body exposed to a gas stream, is to inject gas flow
through the wall, into the boundary layer developing
on the surface. The injection can be done through a
porous surface. When wall heating is performed with
such an injected hot gas, the technique, which is
known as effusive heating, could be applied to the de-
icing of flying bodies. An experimental investigation
of the effect of the blowing factor and the influence of
the porous wall design on the thermal efficiency of ef-
fusive heating has been conducted in the VKI CWT-1
facility as sketched in Figure 8.
Two porous walls have been tested. The first specimen
is a bronze porous matrix, 0.003m thick with porosity
of 34%. The second specimen is a thin laser-perforat-
ed titanium plate with a thickness of 0.0009m. The
drilled holes have a diameter of 50m and are regu-
larly ordered with a pitch of 10 diameters. The experi-
mental conventional effectiveness of the effusive heat-
ing, , defined as the relative temperature of the
heated wall with respect to free stream temperature
compared to the relative hot air temperature, is plot-
ted versus the blowing factor in Figure 9.
Figure 9 compares the present IR data to literature.
The agreement is found to be satisfactory for speci-
men 1 considering that the turbulence level and the
initial boundary layer state could be different in both
studies. However, for specimen 2 where higher blow-
ing factor values are reached, the findings show that
a saturation is reached far from the expected effec-
tiveness that should be close to unity. The explanation
lies in the porous pattern of specimen 2; indeed, the
excessive exit velocity of the hot air jets and the large
distance between holes (10d) as well, lead to entrain-
ment of cold air impinging on the porous structure as
sketched in Figure 9. Such a formation of mixing cells
characterised by high turbulence level lessens the ef-
fective thermal protection and the final result is op-
posite to what was expected.
An experimental study of convective heat transfer in a
channel implemented with perforated ribs immersed in
a turbulent boundary layer has been carried out [AJ9].
Infrared thermography associated with the steady
heated thin foil technique has been applied to obtain
the mapping of the heat transfer coefficient. Different
Figure 7: Streamwise distribution of Nu-number
in the plate heat exchanger at transitional regime
Figure 8: Effusive heating test in CWT-1
Figure 9: Effusive heating efficiency
versus blowing factor
Figure 10: Effect of the rib number on developed
flow: Chevron type turbulators Re = 32000,
= 0.533, P/H = 5
2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
Turbulent Flow and Heat Transfer
types of perforations were compared in the case of a
single turbulator configuration. Conclusions were
drawn on the effect of the rib design on the heat trans-
fer enhancement. Next, the study focuses on the tur-
bulator with perforations of the chevron type. Then,
emphasis was given to the influence of the rib-to-rib
spacing, the open-area factor and the channel
Reynolds number on the thermal exchange.
Compared to a solid rib, a local thermal enhancement
factor of 3 can be expected just behind the perforated
turbulator. Fully developed flow is reached after the
5th to 6th rib as shown in Figure 10. The optimal de-
sign combines a rib pitch-to-height ratio of 5 with an
open area factor of 0.53 for channel Reynolds numbers
ranging from 30000 to 60000 as shown in Figure 11.
The effects induced by classical turbulators are also
deeply investigated in a collaboration between the
Environmental and Applied Fluid Dynamics and the
Turbomachinery and Propulsion departments involv-
ing a Large Eddy Simulation study of multiple ribs
placed in a square duct. The innovative aspect of this
effort is found in the consideration of fully coupled
heat transfer; i.e. a time-resolved solution is proposed
both in the solid and in the air flow. For the first time
at VKI, rotational effects on turbulence and on heat
transfer are numerically investigated. A 2D cut of the
three dimensional mesh is presented in Figure 12
(top). The rotational effect on the coherent structures
contents is seen in Figure 12 (bottom), where half of
the duct is including the rotational effect (in red and
yellow). This image has been obtained by merging two
data files for a direct comparison purpose, the second
half of the duct (structures in green and blue) belongs
to the non-rotational case. It is worth mentioning that
the coherent structures are visualized thanks to an iso-
surface of the Qcriteria (energy based on a conditional
vorticity dominated by rotation).
Finally, due to international regulations concerning the
reduction of solvent-based painting, powder coating
becomes a very attractive process. In such a process
fine solid particles of paint are transported by a gas
flow over a moving strip. The particle depo-
sition is controlled mainly by an applied electrostatic
field and the turbulence of the channel flow. The VKI is
now involved in the numerical simulation of such a
complex coating technique. In a first phase, the study
is focused upon the influence of the speed of the mov-
ing strip, the gas flow rate and the geometrical pa-
rameters such as the width and the thickness of the
strip on the coating uniformity. Models have been spe-
cially developed to take into account the energy sink
due to the paint melting on the hot strip and radiative
transfer between walls and conduction in the strip.
An overall view of the surface meshing used to mod-
el the strip moving in a fixed channel is shown in
Figure 13 (left). Figure 13 (right) displays a typical gas
temperature mapping and a projection of the velocity
vector field in a channel slice.
Figure 11: Effect of the channel
Reynolds number on the mean Nusselt number
Figure 12b: Coherent struc-
tures; in a hot and steady duct
(blue-green); in a hot and ro-
tating duct (red-yellow). LES
obtained with Fluent
Figure 12a: 2D cut of the 3D LES grid
for the flow and the solid
Figure 13: Surface meshing (left) and top
mapping of the gas temperature and velocity
vector field in a channel section (right).
Obtained with Fluent, using k- model
103 2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
Turbulent Flow and Heat Transfer
Turbulence can be thought as a cascade of
flow structures of decreasing scale. Two
extreme options are open for its nu-
merical simulation: the first is to
resolve all the relevant scales oc-
curring within the simulated flow,
which is the aim of he Direct
Numerical Simulation (DNS); the
second one is to model all the tur-
bulent scales through an ad hoc
model, which is done in Reynolds-
Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) formulation. A bridge
between the two previous approaches is to adopt a
model only for the smallest scales, as done in Large
Eddy Simulation (LES). During recent years, the VKI
has focused on the development and the application
of the latter approach.
The LES approach to the modelling of the turbulence
is based upon the idea to decompose the velocity (and
any other state or transport variable) into two parts:
one representing the interaction between the turbu-
lence and the mean flow (i.e. the action due to the
biggest turbulent structures or large eddies) and the
other representing the contribution of the small scales
of turbulence. The turbulent structures belonging to
this range do not interact directly with the mean flow
but only with other turbulent structures.
The advantage of this concept lies in
the fact that the turbulent motions at
the level of small scales could be as-
sumed, at least in a first approximation,
to be isotropic and to exhibit an uni-
versal behaviour. Therefore, the influ-
ence of these small scales on the larg-
er structures could be modelled using
simple turbulent (or subgrid) models,
which should, in principle, apply to any
turbulent flow. The use of subgrid
models makes it possible to close the
mass and momentum conservation
equations for the large scales. In prin-
ciple, all the classes of flow which are
currently studied with the RANS ap-
proach could also be studied, with high-
er accuracy, with LES, albeit at the cost
of a CPU effort at least one order high-
er. Examples of possible applications of
LES could be: injection and combustion
processes; industrial processes; vehicle
aerodynamics; atmospheric flows and
pollutant dispersal; aeroacoustics.
The capability to accurately predict these flow prob-
lems would have a significant practical impact and the
final objective of ongoing research on LES approach
is, therefore, its application to flows of indus-
trial interest.
The VKI is active both in the development
of in-house LES solvers [TH23] for fundamental
research and in the application of commercial codes (
Fluent; CFD ACE+) to the investigation of complex
flows for possible practical applications. In what con-
cerns fundamental developments, an important ad-
vancement, for the Environmental and Applied Fluid
Dynamics department, has been the completion
of the development of a state-of-the-art LES solver
for incompressible flow [MP196,MP197]. The code
(http://www.vki.ac.be/~giamma/mioma/) makes use of
the Finite Volume discretization, structured grids and
the Multidomain frame to describe full 3D geometries
(Figure 1).
The code is written in an advanced C language, makes
heavy use of abstractions, data structures and state-
of-the-art programming tools (CVS, GSL, PETSc,
Doxygen, Maxima) and has been designed to be the
Figure 1: Multidomain
discretization of the
computational field
around a wall-mounted
cube. Pressure field
Figure 2: Coherent structures in the wake
behind a wall mounted cube, visualized
applying Q criterion [TH23]. Reynolds num-
ber Re = 3000. Flow-field simulated by LES
2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
Turbulent Flow and Heat Transfer
105 2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
platform for fundamental research on the LES ap-
proach itself (discretizations, subgrid models, bound-
ary conditions) and the study of the mechanics of tur-
bulence. At present time, research is focused on the
study of the flow around bluff bodies and the under-
standing of the physics and the behaviour of the co-
herent structures which control the dynamic behav-
iour of this class of flow, an example of which is
shown in Figure 2 [TH23], for the case of flow around
a wall-bounded cube.
Commercial LES solvers have been applied to differ-
ent cases of complex flow. Details of these applica-
tions can be seen in the relevant chapters (multiphase
flows and aeroacoustics), but for the relevance and the
novelty of the research one can highlight two cases.
The first one concerns the simulation of the motion of
droplets of liquid alumina created by the combustion
process in the solid fuel rocket engines of the boost-
ers of Ariane 5 (Figure 3), performed by applying CFD
ACE+ [MP198]. The second one concerns the simula-
tion of the impact of a jet on a wing (Figure 4) to cre-
ate a realistic sound source for the study of the noise
created by propellers and helicopter blades, per-
formed by applying Fluent.
In modern experimental and numerical techniques
such as PIV and LES, researchers are often producing
a huge amount of data. A relevant exploitation of
these data cannot be restricted anymore to classical
statistical techniques such as maps of ensemble aver-
age or of standard deviation. In front of this new need,
an important effort is dedicated at VKI to the develop-
ment and use of alternative post-processing techniques.
All of them share a key point; the definition of coher-
ent structures. These structures are present in an in-
stantaneous picture of the flow and they are thought
to be responsible for the concept of energy cascade
from large scales to small scales.If a clear definition of
these structures is not yet fully admitted, several cri-
teria exist allowing their detection. These criteria
(namely Q,
) are based on quantities derived from
the tensor gradient of velocity [TH1,TH23].
Qis the second invariant of the characteristic equation
associated with the tensor gradient of velocity.
When this variable is positive, the asso-
ciated flow is locally dominated
by pure rotation compared
to pure shear.
Figure 3: Coherent structures in a geometry
representative of a solid fuel booster,
visualized applying Q criterion [MP198].
Flow-field simulated by LES
Figure 4: Coherent structures in the flow of a round jet impacting a wing,
visualized applying Q criterion. Flow-field simulated by LES.
Figure 1:
Q visualization around
a circular cylinder (sign of the
streamwise vorticity). LES obtained with
Turbulent Flow and Heat Transfer
106 2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
In Figure 1, this variable is used to visualize the shape
of a von Karman street produced by the flow around
a circular cylinder. The vortical rollers produced by the
shedding of the shear layers are linked by streamwise
vortical filaments illustrated in blue and red, depend-
ing on the sign of the streamwise vorticity. This Q cri-
teria has proved to be very efficient to illustrate the
body of a coherent structure in 3D.

is a variable representing the second eigenvalue of
the tensor where is the symmetric part of the ten-
sor gradient of velocity and is the asymmet-
ric part. When this variable is negative,
it has been proved that locally the
flow is dominated by rotation and
not by shear. At VKI, this criteria is
mainly used in PIV vector fields to
recognize the region where the
patches of vorticity are associated
to rotation but also to filter out the
patches of vorticity due to attached
shear layers. In Figure 2, a vortici-
ty field obtained from PIV is presented.
Figure 3 displays the associated
where only the area of vorticity dominated by
pure rotation is conserved.
With this criterion, it is now possible to do condition-
al averaging which allows the display of the part of the
classical ensemble average that is due only to a co-
herent structure belonging to a certain class [MP55].
In Figure 4, such an average
around a typical coherent structure
present in a channel flow is presented. The
streak-like coherent structure is formed by the en-
semble average of similar structures found close to
the wall. The length is displayed in wall units. The in-
clination towards the center of the channel should be
Such conditional averaging may also be proposed
when only data associated with a range of Q values
are allowed to enter in the ensemble average
[MP215,MP194]. This new statistics is thought to be the
best tool to discriminate the impact of the coherent
structures on the mean flow. Figure 5 proposes the
Figure 2: Vorticity above a backward
facing step obtained from a PIV vector field
Figure 3:
field obtained from the PIV vector
field. The vorticity dominated by rotation is
displayed and associated to coherent structures
Figure 5: Streamlines in the middle plane of a
periodic rib duct flow. Top: classical ensemble
average, Bottom: Ensemble average of the data
associated with the higher values of Q.
LES obtained with Fluent
Figure 4: Conditional averaging of the flow
around a typical coherent structure in a plane
channel. LES obtained with
Turbulent Flow and Heat Transfer
107 2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
comparison between a classical ensemble average
(top) and an ensemble average of the data associated
with the higher values of Q (bottom).
These criteria are now routinely used at VKI to recog-
nize a coherent structure from a 2D or 3D flow.
Moreover, an automatic algorithm to collect coherent
structures has been developed at VKI [AJ58,AJ37]. This
algorithm uses the wavelet properties to automatical-
ly recognize and extract isotropic coherent structures
that are also associated with high negative values
. Figure 6 shows that, for the flow over
a cavity at three different Reynolds
number, the wavelet
based algorithm has
proved to be very effi-
cient in automatically
analysing thousands of PIV
As a reminder, a wavelet
may be presented as a lo-
cal filter. This filter is char-
acterised by a zero mean
and a support on which
the wavelet function is
not zero. There are many
wavelet functions but one of
them has been successfully used at VKI
to extract isotropic coherent structures; i.e. the
Maars Mother wavelet. This wavelet resembles a
Mexican hat (Figure 7) and is stretched or dilated to
compose a full wavelet family having a common
shape and displaying a full range of supports or scales
The vorticity field obtained from PIV images is pro-
jected on the wavelet space. The position and the scale
of the wavelet associated with both the higher coeffi-
cients and to a clearly negative value of
are kept.
This information is translated in terms of position and
size of vortices as may be seen on Figure 6.
At this point, a full range of statistics based on the lo-
cal population of vortices may be proposed (Figure 8).
As an example of its application, this figure proposes
a local concentration of vortices extracted from the
data of Figure 6.
Besides this algorithm, re-
search is pursued in advanced
post-processing providing a
novel way to handle the ac-
quired information. The Proper
Orthogonal Decomposition be-
longs to this category [MP186]. This tech-
nique provides a mathematical base on which
the projection of a data set is energetically optimal, i.e.
the information is reduced to the minimum. These
properties have been used at VKI to extract from a data
set of PIV images uncorrelated in time the more prob-
able coherent structures (Figure 9).
Figure 8: Local statistics of the population of
vortices extracted with the wavelet algorithm
over a cavity at three different Reynolds number
Figure 6: Automatic extraction of positive (blue)
and negative (red) vortices done with the VKI
wavelet-based algorithm
Figure 7: Maars
Mother wavelet used
to extract isotropic
coherent structures
Although this method is attractive, our research
demonstrated the danger of a blind analysis of the
POD modes, forgetting that their mathematical nature
may be more important than their physical one. This
last drawback is balanced by the tremendous ability
of the POD technique to compress the information or
to synthesize the information in order to feed a LES
simulation with a synthetic reconstruction of the flow
with the help of some POD modes.
Turbulent Flow and Heat Transfer
108 2006, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Rhode-St-Gense, Belgium
Figure 9: POD mode of the decomposition of
a data set of PIV images obtained over a cavity