Structural organization of large and very large scales in turbulent pipe flow simulation

J. R. Baltzer, Ronald Adrian, Xiaohua Wu

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91 Scopus citations


The physical structures of velocity are examined from a recent direct numerical simulation of fully developed incompressible turbulent pipe flow (Wu, Baltzer & Adrian, J. Fluid Mech., vol. 698, 2012, pp. 235-281) at a Reynolds number of ReD = 240580 (based on bulk velocity) and a Kármán number of R+ = 685. In that work, the periodic domain length of 30 pipe radii R was found to be sufficient to examine long motions of negative streamwise velocity fluctuation that are commonly observed in wall-bounded turbulent flows and correspond to the large fractions of energy present at very long streamwise wavelengths (≥3R). In this paper we study how long motions are composed of smaller motions. We characterize the spatial arrangements of very large-scale motions (VLSMs) extending through the logarithmic layer and above, and we find that they possess dominant helix angles (azimuthal inclinations relative to streamwise) that are revealed by two-and three-dimensional two-point spatial correlations of velocity. The correlations also reveal that the shorter, large-scale motions (LSMs) that concatenate to comprise the VLSMs are themselves more streamwise aligned. We show that the largest VLSMs possess a form similar to roll cells centred above the logarithmic layer and that they appear to play an important role in organizing the flow, while themselves contributing only a minor fraction of the flow turbulent kinetic energy. The roll cell motions play an important role with the smaller scales of motion that are necessary to create the strong streamwise streaks of low-velocity fluctuation that characterize the flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-279
Number of pages44
Journaljournal of fluid mechanics
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • turbulent boundary layers
  • turbulent flows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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