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Published November 2011 | public
Journal Article

Unsteady force measurements in sphere flow from subcritical to supercritical Reynolds numbers


The flow over a smooth sphere is examined in the Reynolds number range of 5.0 × 10^4 < Re < 5.0 × 10^5 via measurements of the fluctuating forces and particle image velocimetry measurements in a planar cut of the velocity field. Comprehensive studies of the statistics and spectra of the forces are presented for a range of subcritical and supercritical Reynolds numbers. While the subcritical lateral force spectra are dominated by activity corresponding to the large-scale vortex shedding frequency at a Strouhal number of approximately 0.18, there is no such peak apparent in the supercritical spectra, although resolution effects may become important in this region. Nor does the large-scale vortex shedding appear to have a significant effect on the drag force fluctuations at either sub- or super-critical Reynolds numbers. A simple double spring model is shown to capture the main features of the lateral force spectra. The low-frequency force fluctuations observed in earlier computational studies are shown to have important implications for statistical convergence, and in particular, the apparent mean side force observed in earlier studies. At least one thousand dimensionless time units are required for reasonable estimates of the second and higher moments below the critical Reynolds number and even more for supercritical flow, stringent conditions for computational studies. Lastly, investigation of the relationship between the motion of the instantaneous wake shape, defined via the local position where the streamwise velocity is equal to half the freestream value, and the in-plane lateral force for subcritical flow reveals a significant negative correlation throughout the near wake, which is shown to be related to a structure inferred to arise from the large-scale vortex shedding convecting downstream at 61% of the freestream velocity. In addition to its utility in understanding basic sphere flow, the apparatus is also a testbed that will be used in future studies, examining the effect of both static and dynamic changes to the surface morphology.

Additional Information

© 2011 Springer-Verlag. Received: 23 August 2010; Revised: 8 June 2011; Accepted: 29 June 2011; Published online: 14 July 2011. The support of NSF-CAREER award number 0747672 (program managers W. W. Schultz and H. H. Winter) is gratefully acknowledged.

Additional details

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