Effect of free rotation on the motion of a solid sphere in linear shear flow at moderate Re

P. Bagchi, S. Balachandar

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The effect of free rotation on the drag and lift forces on a solid sphere in unbounded linear shear flow is investigated. The sphere Reynolds number, Re =urd/v, is in the range 0.5-200, where ur is the slip velocity. Direct numerical simulations of three-dimensional flow past an isolated sphere are performed using spectral methods. The sphere is allowed to rotate and translate freely in the shear flow in response to the hydrodynamic forces and torque acting on it. The effect of free rotation is studied in a systematic way by considering three sets of simulations. In the first set of simulations, we study how fast a pure rotational or translational motion of the sphere approaches steady state. The "history" effect of rotational and translational motions are compared. Results at high Re are found to be significantly different from the analytical prediction based on low Re theory. In steady simulations, the sphere is allowed to rotate in a torque-free condition. The torque-free rotation rate and the drag and lift forces under such a condition are reported. Comparisons are drawn with the forces on a nonrotating sphere. The effect of rotation is observed to be high in the range 5 ≲ Re ≲ 100. The total lift force is shown to be the sum of the lift force on a nonrotating sphere in shear flow and the lift force on a sphere that is forced to spin at the torque-free rotation rate in a uniform stream (Magnus effect). Finally, we consider the effect of combined free rotation and translation. It is observed that under such combined motion, the sphere achieves translational equilibrium with the local fluid much earlier than it can achieve the zero torque state. The sphere rotates at a rate much lower than the torque-free rotation rate. Free rotation is shown to have a negligible effect on the unsteady drag and lift forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2719-2737
Number of pages19
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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