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Title: Enhanced enstrophy generation for turbulent convection in low-Prandtl-number fluids

Turbulent convection is often present in liquids with a kinematic viscosity much smaller than the diffusivity of the temperature. Here we reveal why these convection flows obey a much stronger level of fluid turbulence than those in which kinematic viscosity and thermal diffusivity are the same; i.e., the Prandtl number Pr is unity. We compare turbulent convection in air at Pr = 0.7 and in liquid mercury at Pr = 0.021. In this comparison the Prandtl number at constant Grashof number Gr is varied, rather than at constant Rayleigh number Ra as usually done. Our simulations demonstrate that the turbulent Kolmogorov-like cascade is extended both at the large- and small-scale ends with decreasing Pr. The kinetic energy injection into the flow takes place over the whole cascade range. In contrast to convection in air, the kinetic energy injection rate is particularly enhanced for liquid mercury for all scales larger than the characteristic width of thermal plumes. As a consequence, mean values and fluctuations of the local strain rates are increased, which in turn results in significantly enhanced enstrophy production by vortex stretching. The normalized distributions of enstrophy production in the bulk and the ratio of the principal strain rates aremore » found to agree for both Prs. Finally, despite the different energy injection mechanisms, the principal strain rates also agree with those in homogeneous isotropic turbulence conducted at the same Reynolds numbers as for the convection flows. Thus, our results have interesting implications for small-scale turbulence modeling of liquid metal convection in astrophysical and technological applications.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Technische Univ. Ilmenau, Ilmenau (Germany)
  2. Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 112; Journal Issue: 31; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Research Org:
Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; National Science Foundation (NSF); German Research Foundation (DFG)
Country of Publication:
United States
71 CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM MECHANICS, GENERAL PHYSICS; direct numerical simulation; liquid metals; thermal convection; vorticity generation
OSTI Identifier: