Investigating the role of magnetic fields, instabilities and turbulence in fluid mixing

Lead Research Organisation: UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
Department Name: Mathematics


In hydrodynamic systems, a number of instabilities can grow from interface layers. These include two classic examples, the Rayleigh-Taylor instability, driven by gravity, and the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, driven by shear flow. As these instabilities develop, non-linearities grow and a turbulent layer forms at the interface. A key characteristic of these layers is their growth in time which follows a self similar evolution (Zhou et al 2019).

Analytically a similarity solution can be derived from the set of coupled PDEs that describe fluid motion, revealing the scaling with time for the expansion of the layer. These solutions can be extended to include further important physical complexities of the system, including modelling of density contrasts. This was performed by Hillier (2019) using a multi layer expansion which asymptotes to a model of the mean layer properties. Having a model of the mean layer properties allows important characteristics of the layer, including asymmetries and energy contained in the turbulent velocity field to be elucidated.

The same linear instabilities that grow and develop the turbulent mixing layers in hydrodynamic systems also appear in magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) systems where magnetic fields and their dynamics couple with the flow. The non-linear MHD equations do permit similarity solutions, but there has only been limited work attempting to quantify how magnetic fields alter the mixing dynamics and with it the similarity solution. The key goal in this project is to develop similarity solutions in the MHD framework for interface turbulence mixing, benchmarking these solutions against 3D MHD simulations. This work can connect with turbulent mixing in industrial processes and astrophysical flows.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/W523859/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025
2606320 Studentship EP/W523859/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Manohar Kalluri