This study investigates the sensitivity to initial conditions of swirling jets undergoing vortex breakdown. Emphasis is placed on the recirculation bubble and on the helical coherent structures that evolve in its periphery. It is proposed that the vortex core size of the incoming swirling jet is the critical parameter that determines the dynamics of these coherent structures. This proposition is assessed with Stereo Particle-Image-Velocimetry (PIV) measurements of the breakdown region of two swirling jet configurations with different vortex core sizes at very similar overall swirl intensities. The swirling jets were generated by radial vanes entering a mixing tube, and the vortex core size was adjusted by using different center-body geometries. The time-averaged flow fields in the breakdown region reveal substantial differences in the jet spreading and the size of the recirculation bubble. Proper Ortogonal Decomposition (POD) was applied to the anti-axisymmetric and axisymmetric velocity fluctuations, to reconstruct the dynamics of the helical instability and the breakdown bubble, respectively. We find that the mode shape of the helical instability is not affected by the vortex core size. The frequency is found to coincide with the vortex core rotation rate, which relates inversely to the core size. The shape and dynamics of the non-periodic breakdown bubble are significantly affected by a change in vortex core size. The POD reveals that the energy content of the dominant non-periodic structure is changed markedly with the vortex core size. The bubble dynamics are further investigated by tracking the upstream stagnation point from the PIV snapshots. It is shown that a larger vortex core promotes smooth fluctuations of the recirculation bubble, while a small initial vortex core is linked to bimodal fluctuations of the recirculation bubble. The conclusions drawn from this study are relevant for fundamental swirling jet studies, as well as for the design of swirl-stabilized combustors, where the investigated coherent structures influence combustion performance.
Experiments in Fluids – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 12, 2015
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