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Investigation of a mixing length and a two-equation turbulence model utilizing the finite element method

K. Morgan, T. G. Hughes and C. Taylor

Department cf Cicil Engineering, (Received 30 Mny 1977) University College, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK

The finite element method is used to analyse turbulent coaxial jet flow using the mixing length viscosity model. The predictions from the model are shown to compare favourably with the results of experiment and of a finite difference based method. The implementation of a two-equation turbulence model in the finite element context is also discussed and the feasibility of such an approach is demonstrated by an analysis of fully developed turbulent flow in smooth walled pipes and channels.

In a recent paper the authors attempted to simulate fully developed and developing turbulent flow in circular smooth-walled pipes using a finite element based numerical model. The use of the van Driest model for effective viscosity produced good agreement between the numerical model and previously published experimental work. The flows considered were of the wall turbulence type, which are characterised by the existence of a thin near wall layer where the majority of the turbulent energy production occurs. In free turbulent shear flows, examples of which include jet and wake flows, a different macroscopic structure prevails and the turbulence intensity is essentially uniform across the main body of the turbulent flow. One aim of this paper is to show that the finite element model described in Taylor et nl. can also be used to successfully describe flows of this type. The particular problem considered is that of an axisymmetric turbulent jet issuing into a co-flowing stream. The velocity of the jet is assumed to be uniform over its cross-section at the nozzle exit (Figure 1). A zone of turbulent mixing occurs downstream of the nozzle exit and the width of this mixing region increases in the downstream direction. The diameter of the core of fluid, characterised by a uniform velocity distribution, decreases with distance downstream and eventually becomes essentially zero. Beyond this point the axial velocity decreases and eventually the flow patterns at subsequent sections become similar. It will be demonstrated that a satisfactory correlation with experimental results3 may be obtained by using the finite element model previously described with the turbulent viscosity evaluated using the mixing length mode14. The difficulties inherent in the mixing length hypothesis and some of the consequences of applying it in turbulent flow analyses have been detailed by Launder and Spalding. They note that the mixing length model is essentially local in nature. However, in order to obtain a realistic description of complex turbulent flows, including those which involve circulation and separation, it is necessary to take account of the convective transport of turbulent energy by the flow. Prandt16 suggested that the turbulent

Figure 7 Schematic flowing stream


of a turbulent

jet in a co

Appl. Math.


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and two-equation



K. Morgan

et al. PT =

kinetic energ. I<. could be evaluated by solving a transport equation and that the turbulent viscosity. llr, could then be obtained by utilising a relationship of the form pr = pk2 1, where p is the fluid density and 1 is an empirically specified length scale. The length scale, 1, itself can also be determined by the solution of a transport equation and there are several possible methods of accomplishing this-ii. This eliminates the need to specify the length scale variation and enables predictions to be made for turbulent flows in which an empirical determination of the length scale is difficult. The implementation of transport equations for k and 1 into the existing finite element model forms the second objective of the current paper. Fully developed turbulent flow in smooth walled pipes and channels is then analysed, with k and 1 determined, as indicated above, and the computed values are compared with both experimental observationsi2~i3 and the result of a finite difference based model 4.



where (7) and 1, called the mixing length, is a flow dependent function of position which has to be specified. The coaxial jet flow problem (Figure I) consists of a jet issuing at a uniform velocity U, from a circular orifice of diameter d into a stream of uniform velocity U,. In such situations, turbulent momentum transfer at right angles to the main stream is of prime importance. For the problem under consideration the mean flow velocities transverse to the main direction of flow are relatively small and the mixing length model of equations (6) and (7) may be reduced to:
/lT =





formulation of turbulent flow

Steady state, isothermal incompressible turbulent flow, ignoring body forces can be described15 by the time averaged Navier-Stokes equations in the form:


with the continuity



Here U is the velocity in the main stream direction and r denotes the radial distance measured from the jet axis. With the width 6 of the jet defined as the distance from the axis to the point beyond which U < U, + O.Ol(U, - U,), where U, is the velocity along the axis of the jet, it is usually assumed that the mixing length 1 is directly proportional to 6 in the following manner: 1 = cii (9)

axi -


Where Q is the fluid density, Ui(i = 1,2,3) are the local averaged velocities with respect to a Cartesian coordinate system, x,(i = 1,2,3) and - putuj are Reynolds stresses which are normally written: (3) where /or is the so-called turbulent viscosity. The quantities Tijrepresent the mean values of the stresses due to viscous forces and are given by,:

where C is a constant. Launder and Spalding5 state that their analysis of coaxial jets, using the finite difference discretisation method of the governing equations and the mixing length viscosity model, suggests that reasonable agreement with experimental results could be obtained with C = 0.075. This is, therefore, the value adopted for the computations described in the present section.

where P is the local averaged viscosity and: fi, _

rj i


11 is the fluid

Following the procedure outlined by Launder et al., assuming no pressure gradient and that the laminar friction may be neglected compared with the turbulent friction, a complete description of the flow can then be obtained by solving, simultaneously, an alternative form of the momentum equation:



(5) and the continuity equation:

= 0


The objective is then the solution of equations (l)-(4) by developing a numerical model which uses the finite element method to describe the fluid motion within a bounded domain. This, as is demonstrated below, can be accomplished if suitable boundary conditions are available and an acceptable turbulent viscosity model can be defined.

ax +

--(rV) pr ar



Calculation of coaxial jet flow using the mixing length viscosity model
Mixing length viscosity model

The turbulent viscosity pr is again given by equations (8) and (9) and V is the mean velocity in the radial direction. The region in which the solution is required is discretised by standard finite element proceduresj using parabolic isoparametric elements. Equations (10) and (11) may then be written in the convenient matrix form :

By considering the turbulent transfer of momentum, Prandt14 suggested the turbulence viscosity model:




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and two-equation



K. Morgan

et al.

in which the ith element

of fi is (13)

Bi = [


For the main region of the jet, Abramovich shows that experimental results for the axial velocity closely follow the curve: Z&+1 _ isi. (14)

In the formation of the non-linear equation (12) all terms except those containing surface integrals are retained on the left hand side. Jt js immedja1ely apparent that a suitable iterative technique is necessary to obtain a solution to the matrix equation. The method adopted by the authors is to replace terms such as U(aU/ax), where U is the value at the nth iteration, by Q(du/Zxj, where an overbar denotes a quantity evaluated at the (n - 1)th iteration. The required nth iteration value of pT is given by C2s2((8D/&)l. The process is usually started by assuming zero velocity within the solution domain, although this is not a rigid requirement.

The geometry of the solution domain considered and the boundary conditions employed are illustrated in Figure 2. A ~~ypic~~%nik &x-w_~< OC the d@mdn u%ng 52 e>emen>s js also shown jn Z%>S figure.

Figure 4 Axial vetocity profile in main region for U,,/U, = 0.25

element method correctly predicts the form of the jet flow for the case when U,/UJ = 0.25. For the same ratio of velocities, the development of the axial velocity profile with distance downstream is shown in Figure 5.

2x/d ymmetry Figure i jet flow Solution domam and boundary conditrons for coaxial .
A .

20 50 100 150 250

i . i

c 0 L

In the initial region of the jet a potential core of constran? V&S&~ V> ex&s. T&e cak&a%& a&9 velocity profiles at various downstream distances in this initial region are displayed in Figure 3 for the case UJU, = 0.25. This figure also shows the experimental results obtained by Abramovicht7 for an axisymmetric submerged jet ano jt can he seen rkiat goob agreemenf has been obtained.
0.2 0

I Iv uC E

--= 0
0.1 (q

Figure U,lUJ 5 Calculated = 0.25 development of axial velocity profile for

,& 1

0 AOX 0 0x 0 @do*


x a -1.0 = -CD8 -0b -09 -D;? D 02 D4




Figure 3 Axial velocity in initial

MAr,) region of jet

Again good agreement with the values abstracted from the curves of Figures 3 and 4 was obtained for U,/U, = 0.5, 0.75. Figure 6 illustrates a comparison for UO/UJ = 0.25 between the present model, the finite difference model Q[ Launde,~ et al.? ad cxqxLmxext3 fix t! v&c 4 aecay ofvelbcily on tfie axis ofsymmetry with &stance downstream. It can be seen that the finite element method produces similar results to those obtained





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and two-equation



K. Morgan

et al.

can be shown that:


k1212 ak ( D2

axj )
2 + 2) - C,k3/2(17j

+ C,k~l~(





where g1,cr2 and C, are assumed to be constants for fully turbulent flows and C:, is allowed to vary in the vicinity of a wall. Fully developed pipe nnd channel ,flows

Figure 6 Variation of velocity along axis for lJ,/lJ, = 0.25. (0). experImenta?; (---), finite difference,( x), present model

from the finite difference technique and both compare favourably with the experimental results. The results of this section indicate that the finite element method can, for the particular viscosity model chosen, be used to analyse free turbulent shear flows. A better comparison with experiment should result from the use of more sophisticated models for the turbulent viscosity8, the development of such models in the finite element context is described below.

The simultaneous solution, by the finite element method, of the conservation equations (1) and (2) and the transport equations (16) and (17) is a difficult problem. As a first stage in the development of such a process, fully developed turbulent flow in pipes and channels was analysed. In such instances the governing equations are simplified, since both the mean flow and the turbulence remain the same at successive sections. Within the above context the relevant equations are:

Improved turbulent viscosity models
The defects in the mixing length model for turbulent viscosity have been fully described by Launder and Spalding. Prandt16 and Kolmogorov were the first to suggest how the local nature of the mixing length formula for evaluating pT could be improved. They proposed the relationship:

C,k312 -pl= 12k12 + pra01



2 _ c k3/2 = () m (20)

where k is the time-averaged turbulence kinetic energy and postulated that k should be obtained by the solution of a separate differential transport equation which can be derived from the Navier-Stokes equations and may be written in the form:

au + C P12k112 ar (H where a = 0 for channel in equation (20): C:, = c, + c,(l/y)q

flow, c( = 1 for pipe flow and (21)

where C,, C, and q are constants for fully turbulent flows and y denotes distance from the wall. Finite element solution The flow in the immediate vicinity of the wall exhibits a transition from laminar flow at the wall to fully turbulent flow some distance away. In equations (19), (20) and (21), the quantities which have been stated to be constant for fully turbulent flows are found to vary with the local Reynolds number in the near-wall region. For this reason the solution domain considered does not extend to the wall but terminates inside the fully turbulent region. Following Ng and conditions applied Spalding 4 the near-wall boundary are: u = [~)s[2.51n~($)o5 k = z,/C;~ I= o.4cg25!, + 5.51 I J (22)

where ok and CD are taken to be constant for fully turbulent flows. If the length scale variation 1 can be specified then this method may be used for flows in which separation and recirculation occurs e.g. Runcha12. However, the inherent requirement for the algebraic specification of the length scale means that, in practice, this model is only slightly superior to the mixing length model described previously. In the so-called two-equation models of turbulence (references 7-l l), the length scale itself is determined by the solution of a differential equation. Again by suitable manipulation of the Navier-Stokes equation it






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Mixing length and two-equation where ~~ is the wall shear stress and is directly related to the applied pressure gradient. The finite element discretisation of the solution domain adopted for both pipe and channel flow is shown in Figures 7a and Sa. With this discretisation, equations (18)-(20) may be written in the matrix form of equation (11) where the variable now becomes:

turbulence model: K. Morgan et al.

075 -

The solution of this matrix equation again has to be accomplished by an iterative method, with the nonlinear terms receiving similar treatment to that described in the section on the finite element solution technique. Results The calculations were performed using the values given for the constants in equations (19)-(20) by Ng and Spalding14. Figure Tb shows a comparison

i: s -3 0.50.

02 0.4 0.6 0.8 I.00

x x X---L






0 0
0.2 0.4 O-6 0.8 I.00







2fld C X

Figure 8 Fully developed channel flow; R.V = 30,800, h = 0.5. a, finite element mesh and boundary conditions. b, plot of U/lJcL and k/&; (

l ),

experiment; ( x), present

( x), model



c, plot of

Too I 0.075


and l/h;

0.12 1



xx .w.x X / / XIX ..-

X ._._--X

0.025 X 10




04 *r/d




Figure 7 Fully developed pipe flow, RN = 5 x 1 05. d = 1, a fmite element mesh and boundary conditions. b. plot of U/U,, and /?a; 2v,/d,fi.

( x),

present model; present

( x),


( l ), experiment.13 ( l ), experiment13

c. plot of

between the predictions of the finite element model and results. This figure shows the Laufers 3 experimental velocity and turbulent kinetic energy distribution for fully developed pipe flow at a Reynolds number, R,N, of 5 x 10. The turbulent viscosity distribution is compared with experiment in Figure 7c and the predicted length scale variation is also shown in this figure. Figure 8 (b and c) displays the results of a corresponding calculation for fully developed flow in a channel at a Reynolds number, R,, of 30800. It can be seen that the finite element predictions are in good agreement with experimental observations. Ng and Spalding14 obtained similar agreement by solving the two-dimensional form of equations (18)-(20) using the finite difference method. This was achieved by employing forward integration in the stream-wise direction until the fully-developed flow stage was reached.





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and two-equation



K. Morgan
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 II 12 13 14 I5 16 17 18

et al.
Van Driest, E. R. J. Aero. Sci. 1956, 23, 1007 Forstal, W. and Shapiro, A. H. .I. Appl. Mrch. 1950, 17, 399 Prandtl, L. Bericht tiber Untersuchungen zur ausgebildeten Turbulenz Ztmwr. 1925, 5, 136 Launder, B. E. and Spalding, D. B. Lectures in mathematical models of turbulence Academic Press, London, 1972 Prandtl, L. Uber ein neues Formelsystem fur die ausgebildctc Turbulenz Nachr. Akd. Wis.s. Giittingen, 1945 Kolmogorov, A. N. I-r. Aktrd. Nauk SSSR, Ser Phrs. 1942, 6. No. l-2, 56 Chou, P. Y. Qwt. Appl. Muth. 1945, 3. 38 Rotta. J. Z. PhJ,.s.. 1951, 129, 547 and 131, 51 Rotta. S. Proc. AGARD Cot~f. 7urhulent Shem Flmvs, London, 1971 Spalding, D. B. Imperial College, Heat Transfer Section, Rep. EF/TN/AjIh. 1969 Laufer, J. 1Y4C,4. Rep. 1053, 1951 Lamer, J. The structure of turbulence in fully developed pipe flow NACA Rep. 1174. 1954 Ng, K. H. and Spalding, D. B. Phrs. Flrrids. 1972, 13. 20 Goldstein, S. (Ed). Modern developments in fluid dynamics Vol. I, Dover Publications, London, 1965 Taylor, C. and Hood. P. Cwnp. trrtd F/&s, 1973, 1, 73 Abramovich, G. N. The theory of turbulent jets. M.I.T. Press, 1963 Launder, B. E. et d. Proc. Cm/. Free Turhule~~tShear Flows, NASA-SPJZI, 1. 1X1, 1973 Wolfshtein, M. 7wn.s. A.S.M.E., J. B&C Engng, 1970. 92, 915 Runchal, A. K. Imperial College, Heat Transfer Section, Rep. EF:R:OiI. 1968

The present paper and previous work have demonstrated that the finite element method, using simple turbulent viscosity models, can be successfully employed in the analysis of both free turbulent shear flows and flows of the wall-turbulence type. A successful analysis of fully developed turbulent flow using a more sophisticated viscosity model has also been achieved. The incorporation of a two-equation turbulence model into a finite element solution procedure for twodimensional flows is currently being investigated.

The authors wish to thank the Science Research Council for the financial support, in the form of a Research Studentship, which made the present investigation possible.

1 Taylor, C. rt al. A numerical analysis of turbulent pipes (In press) flow in I9 20

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