Disturbance amplification in boundary layers over thin wall films

Sandeep Saha, Jacob Page, Tamer A. Zaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In single-fluid boundary layers, streaks can amplify at sub-critical Reynolds numbers and initiate early transition to turbulence. Introducing a wall film of different viscosities can appreciably alter the stability of the base flow and, in particular, the transient growth of the perturbation streaks. The formalism of seminorms is used to identify optimal disturbances which maximize the kinetic energy in the two-fluid flow. An examination of optimal growth over a range of viscosity ratios of the film relative to the outer flow reveals three distinct regimes of amplification, each associated with a particular combination of the eigenfunctions. In order to elucidate the underlying amplification mechanisms, a model problem is formulated: An initial value problem is solved using an eigenfunction expansion and is used to compute the evolution of pairs of eigenfunctions. By appropriately selecting the pair, the initial value problem qualitatively reproduces the temporal evolution of the optimal disturbance, and provides an unambiguous explanation of the dynamics. Two regimes of transient growth are attributed to the evolution of the interface mode along with free-stream vortical modes; the third regime is due to the evolution of the interface and a discrete mode. The results demonstrate that a lower-viscosity film can effectively reduce the efficacy of the lift-up mechanism and, as a result, transient growth of disturbances. However, another mechanism of amplification of wall-normal vorticity arises due to the deformation of the two-fluid interface and becomes dominant below a critical viscosity ratio.
Original languageEnglish
Article number024108
Number of pages23
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number2
Early online date16 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 29 Feb 2016


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