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Importance of fluid inertia for the orientation of spheroids settling in turbulent flow

Journal article
Authors M. Z. Sheikh
Kristian Gustavsson
D. Lopez
E. Leveque
Bernhard Mehlig
A. Pumir
A. Naso
Published in Journal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume 886
Pages 15
ISSN 0022-1120
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 15
Language en
Keywords particle/fluid flow, homogeneous turbulence, ellipsoidal particles, motion, dynamics, velocity, drag, Mechanics, Physics
Subject categories Physical Sciences


How non-spherical particles orient as they settle in a flow has important practical implications in a number of scientific and engineering problems. In a quiescent fluid, a slowly settling particle orients so that it settles with its broad side first. This is an effect of the torque due to convective inertia of the fluid that is set in motion by the settling particle, which maximises the drag experienced by the particle. Turbulent fluid-velocity gradients, on the other hand, tend to randomise the particle orientation. Recently the settling of non-spherical particles in turbulence was analysed neglecting the effect of convective fluid inertia, but taking into account the effect of the turbulent fluid-velocity gradients on the particle orientation. These studies reached the opposite conclusion, namely that the particle tends to settle with its narrow edge first, therefore minimising the drag on the particle. Here, we consider both effects, the convective inertial torque as well as the torque due to fluctuating fluid-velocity gradients. We ask under which circumstances either one or the other dominates. To this end we estimate the ratio of the magnitudes of the two torques. Our estimates suggest that the fluid-inertia torque prevails in high-Reynolds-number flows. In this case non-spherical particles tend to settle with orientations maximising drag. But when the Reynolds number is small, then the torque due to fluid-velocity gradients may dominate, causing the particle to settle with its narrow edge first, minimising the drag.

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