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Published July 25, 2004 | Published
Journal Article Open

Fluid entrainment by isolated vortex rings


Of particular importance to the development of models for isolated vortex ring dynamics in a real fluid is knowledge of ambient fluid entrainment by the ring. This time-dependent process dictates changes in the volume of fluid that must share impulse delivered by the vortex ring generator. Therefore fluid entrainment is also of immediate significance to the unsteady forces that arise due to the presence of vortex rings in starting flows. Applications ranging from industrial and transportation, to animal locomotion and cardiac flows, are currently being investigated to understand the dynamical role of the observed vortex ring structures. Despite this growing interest, fully empirical measurements of fluid entrainment by isolated vortex rings have remained elusive. The primary difficulties arise in defining the unsteady boundary of the ring, as well as an inability to maintain the vortex ring in the test section sufficiently long to facilitate measurements. We present a new technique for entrainment measurement that utilizes a coaxial counter-flow to retard translation of vortex rings generated from a piston–cylinder apparatus, so that their growth due to fluid entrainment can be observed. Instantaneous streamlines of the flow are used to determine the unsteady vortex ring boundary and compute ambient fluid entrainment. Measurements indicate that the entrainment process does not promote self-similar vortex ring growth, but instead consists of a rapid convection-based entrainment phase during ring formation, followed by a slower diffusive mechanism that entrains ambient fluid into the isolated vortex ring. Entrained fluid typically constitutes 30% to 40% of the total volume of fluid carried with the vortex ring. Various counter-flow protocols were used to substantially manipulate the diffusive entrainment process, producing rings with entrained fluid fractions up to 65%. Measurements of vortex ring growth rate and vorticity distribution during diffusive entrainment are used to explain those observed effects, and a model is developed to relate the governing parameters of isolated vortex ring evolution. Measurement results are compared with previous studies of the process, and implications for the dynamics of starting flows are suggested.

Additional Information

© 2004 Cambridge University Press. Received 10 December 2003 and in revised form 15 April 2004. Published online: 12 July 2004. The authors gratefully acknowledge P. S. Krueger for helpful discussions and design of the original coaxial flow apparatus that was modified for these experiments. The reviewers of this paper are also appreciated for their useful comments and suggestions. This work has been conducted with the support of National Science Foundation Grant 0309671.

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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023