Large-eddy simulation of flow over a rotating cylinder: The lift crisis at ReD=6×104

Wan Cheng*, D. I. Pullin, R. Samtaney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We present wall-resolved large-eddy simulation (LES) of flow with free-stream velocity over a cylinder of diameter rotating at constant angular velocity , with the focus on the lift crisis, which takes place at relatively high Reynolds number , where is the kinematic viscosity of the fluid. Two sets of LES are performed within the ( , )-plane with the dimensionless cylinder rotation speed. One set, at , is used as a reference flow and does not exhibit a lift crisis. Our main LES varies in at fixed . For in the range we find a lift crisis. This range is in agreement with experiment although the LES shows a deeper local minimum in the lift coefficient than the measured value. Diagnostics that include instantaneous surface portraits of the surface skin-friction vector field , spanwise-averaged flow-streamline plots, and a statistical analysis of local, near-surface flow reversal show that, on the leeward-bottom cylinder surface, the flow experiences large-scale reorganization as increases through the lift crisis. At the primary-flow features comprise a shear layer separating from that side of the cylinder that moves with the free stream and a pattern of oscillatory but largely attached flow zones surrounded by scattered patches of local flow separation/reattachment on the lee and underside of the cylinder surface. Large-scale, unsteady vortex shedding is observed. At the flow has transitioned to a more ordered state where the small-scale separation/reattachment cells concentrate into a relatively narrow zone with largely attached flow elsewhere. This induces a low-pressure region which produces a sudden decrease in lift and hence the lift crisis. Through this process, the boundary layer does not show classical turbulence behaviour. As is further increased at constant , the localized separation zone dissipates with corresponding attached flow on most of the cylinder surface. The lift coefficient then resumes its increasing trend. A logarithmic region is found within the boundary layer at.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-407
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Nov 25 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Cambridge University Press.


  • boundary layer separation
  • boundary layers
  • turbulence simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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