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The origin of turbulence in wall-bounded flows

The motion of liquids and gases can be either laminar, flowing slowly in orderly parallel and continuous layers of fluid that cannot mix, or turbulent in which motion exhibits disorder in time and space with the ability to promote mixing. Breakdown of ordered to disordered motion can follow different scenarios so that no universal mechanism can be identified even in similar flow configurations [1]. Only under very special circumstances can the mechanism associated with the appearance of turbulence be studied within the deterministic theory of hydrodynamic stability [2] or employing direct numerical simulations [3] which themselves cannot provide the necessary understanding [4]. Here we show that the representative mechanism responsible for the origin of turbulence in wall-bounded flows is associated with large variations of anisotropy in the disturbances [5]. During the breakdown process, anisotropy decays from a maximum towards its minimum value, inducing the explosive production of the dissipation which logically leads to the appearance of small-scale three-dimensional motions. By projecting the sequence of events leading to turbulence in the space which emphasizes the anisotropic nature in the disturbances [6], we explain why, demonstrate how and present what can be achieved if the process is treated analytically using statistical techniques [7]. It is shown that the statistical approach provides not only predictions of the breakdown phenomena which are in fair agreement with available data but also requirements which ensure persistence of the laminar regime up to very high Reynolds numbers.
PAPER REVISED: 2016-06-30
PAPER ACCEPTED: 2016-06-30
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