Dynamics of hairpin vortices and polymer-induced turbulent drag reduction

Kyoungyoun Kim, Ronald J. Adrian, S. Balachandar, R. Sureshkumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


It has been known for over six decades that the dissolution of minute amounts of high molecular weight polymers in wall-bounded turbulent flows results in a dramatic reduction in turbulent skin friction by up to 70%. First principles simulations of turbulent flow of model polymer solutions can predict the drag reduction (DR) phenomenon. However, the essential dynamical interactions between the coherent structures present in turbulent flows and polymer conformation field that lead to DR are poorly understood. We examine this connection via dynamical simulations that track the evolution of hairpin vortices, i.e., counter-rotating pairs of quasistreamwise vortices whose nonlinear autogeneration and growth, decay and breakup are centrally important to turbulence stress production. The results show that the autogeneration of new vortices is suppressed by the polymer stresses, thereby decreasing the turbulent drag.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134504
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 2 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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