Abstract: The dynamics of elasto-inertial turbulence is investigated numerically from the perspective of the coupling between polymer dynamics and flow structures. In particular, direct numerical simulations of channel flow with Reynolds numbers ranging from 1000 to 6000 are used to study the formation and dynamics of elastic instabilities and their effects on the flow. Based on the splitting of the pressure into inertial and polymeric contributions, it is shown that the polymeric pressure is a non-negligible component of the total pressure fluctuations, although the rapid inertial part dominates. Unlike Newtonian flows, the slow inertial part is almost negligible in elasto-inertial turbulence. Statistics on the different terms of the Reynolds stress transport equation also illustrate the energy transfers between polymers and turbulence and the redistributive role of pressure. Finally, the trains of cylindrical structures around sheets of high polymer extension that are characteristics of elasto-inertial turbulence are shown to be correlated with the polymeric pressure fluctuations.
Abstract: Elasto-inertial turbulence (EIT) is a new state of turbulence found in inertial flows with polymer additives. The dynamics of turbulence generated and controlled by such additives is investigated from the perspective of the coupling between polymer dynamics and flow structures. Direct numerical simulations of channel flow with Reynolds numbers ranging from 1000 to 6000 (based on the bulk and the channel height) are used to study the formation and dynamics of elastic instabilities and their effects on the flow. The flow topology of EIT is found to differ significantly from Newtonian wall-turbulence. Structures identified by positive (rotational flow topology) and negative (extensional/compressional flow topology) second invariant Qa isosurfaces of the velocity gradient are cylindrical and aligned in the spanwise direction. Polymers are significantly stretched in sheet-like regions that extend in the streamwise direction with a small upward tilt. The Qa cylindrical structures emerge from the sheets of high polymer extension, in a mechanism of energy transfer from the fluctuations of the polymer stress work to the turbulent kinetic energy. At subcritical Reynolds numbers, EIT is observed at modest Weissenberg number (Wi, ratio polymer relaxation time to viscous time scale). For supercritical Reynolds numbers, flows approach EIT at large Wi. EIT provides new insights on the nature of the asymptotic state of polymer drag reduction (maximum drag reduction), and explains the phenomenon of early turbulence, or onset of turbulence at lower Reynolds numbers than for Newtonian flows observed in some polymeric flows.