Tumbling in Turbulence: How much does particle shape effect particle motion?
Abstract:Natural particles suspended in surface water are often non-spherical. We explore the ways in which particle shape effects particle motion, focusing specifically on how particle rotation is divided into spinning and tumbling components. This, in turn, will effect particle collision, clustering, and settling rates. We focus on idealized axisymmetric particles shaped as rods, discs, and spheroids. They are chosen so as to explain the physics of aspherical-particle motion that will be relevant for natural particles such as plankton, sediment, or aggregates (e.g. oil-mineral aggregates, clay flocs, or bio-sediment aggregates held together by TEP). Our work begins with laboratory measurements of particle motion in a turbulence tank built to mimic the flow found in rivers, estuaries, and the ocean surface mixed layer. We then proceed to direct numerical simulation of particle-flow interactions in sheared turbulence similar to that which is found in the surface water of creeks and rivers.
We find that shape has only a very weak effect on particle angular velocity, which is a quantity calculated with respect the global reference frame (i.e. east/north/up). If we analyze rotation in a particle's local frame (i.e. the particle's principle axes of rotation), then particle shape has a strong effect on rotation. In the local frame, rotation is described by two components: tumbling and spinning. We find that rod-shaped particles spin more than they tumble, and we find that disc-shaped particles tumble more than they spin. Such behavior is indicative of how particles respond the the directional influence of vortex tubes in turbulence, and such response has implications for particle motion other than rotation. Understanding particle alignment is relevant for predicting particle-particle collision rates, particle-wall collision rates, and the shear-driven breakup of aggregates. We discuss these briefly in the context of what can be concluded from the rotation data discussed above.