Experimental Observations of Flow Instability in a Helical Coil (Data Bank Contribution)

[+] Author and Article Information
D. R. Webster, J. A. C. Humphrey

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720

J. Fluids Eng 115(3), 436-443 (Sep 01, 1993) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2910157 History: Received March 16, 1992; Revised December 16, 1992; Online May 23, 2008


Experimental observations were made for the nominally fully developed flow through a helically coiled pipe of circular cross-section with a curvature radius to pipe radius ratio Rc /a = 18.2. Laser-Doppler measurements of the instantaneous streamwise velocity, uθ , and the cross-stream circumferential velocity, uφ , components were obtained along the midplane of the pipe cross-section. The Reynolds number range explored was 3800 < Re < 10500 (890 < De < 2460) and spans the laminar and turbulent flow regimes. Time integration of the velocity records has yielded previously unavailable mean and rms velocity profiles. In the range 5060 < Re < 6330, the time records of the velocity components reveal periodic flow oscillations with St ≈ 0.25 in the inner half of the pipe cross-section while the flow near the outer wall remains steady. A frequency doubling (St ≈ 0.5) is also observed at some midplane locations. This low frequency unsteadiness is distinct from the shear-induced turbulent fluctuations produced with increasing Re first at the outer wall and later at the inner wall of the coiled pipe. Simple considerations suggest that the midplane jet in the recirculating cross-stream flow is the source of instability.

Copyright © 1993 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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