Turbulent flow over a rough backward-facing step

Yanhua Wu, Huiying Ren, Hui Tang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


This work characterizes the impacts of the realistic roughness due to deposition of foreign materials on the turbulent flows at surface transition from elevated rough-wall to smooth-wall. High resolution PIV measurements were performed in the streamwise-wall-normal (x-y) planes at two different spanwise positions in both smooth and rough backward-facing step flows. The experiment conditions were set at a Reynolds number of 3450 based on the free stream velocity U∞and the mean step height h, expansion ratio of 1.01, and the ratio of incoming boundary layer thickness to the step height, δ/h, of 8. The mean flow structures are observed to be modified by the roughness and they illustrate three-dimensional features in rough backward-facing step flows. The mean reattachment length Xris significantly reduced by the roughness at one PIV measurement position while is slightly increased by the different roughness topography at the other measurement position. The mean velocity profiles at the reattachment point indicate that the studied roughness weakens the perturbation of the step to the incoming turbulent flow. Comparisons of Reynolds normal and shear stresses, productions of normal stresses, quadrant analysis of the instantaneous shear-stress contributing events, and mean spanwise vorticity reveal that the turbulence in the separated shear layer is reduced by the studied roughness. The results also indicate an earlier separation of the turbulent boundary layer over the current rough step, probably due to the adverse pressure gradient produced by the roughness topography even before the step.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-169
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Backward-facing step flow
  • Rough-wall turbulent flow
  • Turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes

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