, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 219-229
Date: 15 Apr 2004

Turbulent drag reduction in dam-break flows

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The role of turbulence is investigated in dam-break flows, where a finite volume of fluid is released from a compartment into a long, rectangular channel. After a sudden removal of the lock gate, a gravity current, undular bore, or solitary wave develops, depending on the ambient fluid height in the channel. The temporal evolution of the moving front has been measured and evaluated. It was observed that the dilution using a very small amount (a few weight ppm) of a long chain polymer (polyethylene-oxide) in the fluid strongly affected flow properties. Pronounced drag reduction has been found in dry bed flows (whereas the polymer increased the viscosity of the fluid). The presence of a few mm-thick ambient fluid layer in the channel effectively destroyed drag reduction, in spite of the fact that strong turbulence was obvious and the propagation velocity of the front was almost unchanged.