A numerical study of inertial flow features in moderate Reynolds number flow through packed beds of spheres Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/rb68xf13k

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  • In this work, flow through synthetic arrangements of contacting spheres is studied as a model problem for porous media and packed bed type flows. Direct numerical simulations are performed for moderate pore Reynolds numbers in the range, 10 ≤ Re ≤ 600, where non-linear porescale flow features are known to contribute significantly to macroscale properties of engineering interest. To first choose and validate appropriate computational models for this problem, the relative performance of two numerical approaches involving body conforming and non-conforming grids for simulating porescale flows is examined. In the first approach, an unstructured solver is used with tetrahedral meshes, which conform to the boundaries of the porespace. In the second approach, a fictitious domain formulation (Apte et al., 2009. J Comput. Phys. 228 (8), 2712-2738) is used, which employs non-body conforming Cartesian grids and enforces the no-slip conditions on the pore boundaries implicitly through a rigidity constraint force. Detailed grid convergence studies of both steady and unsteady flow through prototypical arrangements of spheres indicate that for a fixed level of uncertainty, significantly lower grid densities may be used with the fictitious domain approach, which also does not require complex grid generation techniques. Next, flows through both random and structured arrangements of spheres are simulated at pore Reynolds numbers in the steady inertial ( 10 ≲ Re ≲ 200) and unsteady inertial (Re ≈ 600) regimes, and used to analyze the characteristics of porescale vortical structures. Even at similar Reynolds numbers, the vortical structures observed in structured and random packings are remarkably different. The interior of the structured packings are dominated by multi-lobed vortex rings structures that align with the principal axes of the packing, but perpendicular to the mean flow. The random packing is dominated by helical vortices, elongated parallel to the mean flow direction. The unsteady dynamics observed in random and structured arrangements are also distinct, and are linked to the behavior of the porescale vortices. Finally, to investigate the existence and behavior of transport barriers in packed beds, a numerical tool is developed to compute high resolution finite-time Lyapunov exponent (FTLE) fields on-the-fly during DNS of unsteady flows. Ridges in this field are known to correspond to Lagrangian Coherent Structures (LCS), which are invariant barriers to transport and form the skeleton of time dependent Lagrangian fluid motion. The algorithm and its implementation into a parallel DNS solver are described in detail and used to explore several flows, including unsteady inertial flow in a random sphere packing. The resulting FTLE fields unambiguously define the boundaries of dynamically distinct porescale features such as counter rotating helical vortices and jets, and capture time dependent phenomena including vortex shedding at the pore level.
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