Simultaneous velocity and density measurements of fully developed Rayleigh-Taylor mixing

Mark Mikhaeil, Gokul Pathikonda

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1 Scopus citations


The dynamics of molecular mixing and the energy transfer process in the Rayleigh-Taylor instability (RTI) are studied through the collection of simultaneous density-velocity measurements. These experiments provide simultaneous density-velocity field measurements, in contrast to previous point measurements. Statistically stationary experiments are performed in a “convective-type” gas tunnel facility, with density contrast achieved through the injection of helium into the bottom stream. Three experiments at Atwood number are captured at three outer scale Reynolds numbers , and 4050. Particle image velocimetry and laser induced fluorescence are employed simultaneously. Statistics of the density and velocity show self-similar collapse of RTI profiles at large Reynolds number . Flat velocity profiles indicate homogeneous turbulence characteristics in the core of the mixing region. Significant anisotropy develops in the flow, with horizontal velocity fluctuations being only 60% of the vertical velocity fluctuations. The turbulent mass flux is found to be asymmetric about the centerline, with increased peak towards the spike. Measurements of the molecular mixing show that mixing is maximized at the core of the flow and increases with increased Reynolds number. The transport equation of density-specific-volume correlation shows that it is mostly produced in the core of the mixing region, and that the spatial evolution of its profile is the result of transport by bulk motion of the bubble and spike. Energy transfer from gravitational potential energy to turbulent kinetic energy and viscous dissipation is observed to occur in the experiment with a ratio of dissipated energy to potential energy released of 38%. The analysis of the turbulent kinetic energy transport equation budget reveals that production is the primary mechanism towards the growth of turbulent kinetic energy in the core of the flow, and is asymmetrically slightly skewed towards the spike. However, it is through the transport that the strong advection at the edges of the mixing region is maintained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number073902
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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