Orientation statistics and settling velocity of ellipsoids in decaying turbulence

C. Siewert, R.P.J. Kunnen, M. Meinke, W. Schröder

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Motivated by applications in engineering as well as in other disciplines where the motion of particles in a turbulent flow field is important, the orientation and settling velocity of ellipsoidal particles in a spatially decaying isotropic turbulent flow are numerically investigated. With respect to cloud microphysics ellipsoidal particles of various shapes are interpreted as archetypes of regular ice crystals, i.e., plates and columns approximated by oblate and prolate ellipsoids. The motion of 19 million small and heavy ellipsoidal particles is tracked by a Lagrangian point-particle model based on Stokes flow conditions. Five types of ellipsoids of revolution such as prolates, spheres, and oblates are considered. The orientation and settling velocity statistics are gathered at six turbulence intensities characterized by the turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate ranging from 30 to 250 cm2s-3. It is shown that the preferential orientation of ellipsoids is disturbed by the turbulent fluctuations of the fluid forces and moments. As the turbulence intensity increases the orientation probability distribution becomes more and more uniform. That is, the settling velocity of the ellipsoids is influenced by the turbulence level since the drag force is dependent on the orientation. The effect is more pronounced, the longer the prolate or the flatter the oblate is. The theoretical settling velocity based on the orientation probability of the non-spherical particles is smaller than that found in the simulation. The results show the existence of the preferential sweeping phenomenon also for non-spherical particles. These two effects of turbulence on the motion of ellipsoids change the settling velocity and as such the swept volume, that is expected to result in modified collision probabilities of ellipsoid-shaped particles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-56
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Research
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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