Unsteady Laminar to Turbulent Flow in a Spacer-Filled Channel
A combined numerical and experimental investigation has been carried out to study the flow behaviour in a spacer-filled channel, representative of those used in spiral-wound membrane modules. Direct numerical simulation and particle image velocimetry were used to investigate the fluid flow characteristics inside a 2 × 2 cell at Reynolds numbers that range between 100 and 1000. It was found that the flow in this geometry moves parallel to and also rotates between the spacer filaments and that the rate of rotation increases with Reynolds number. The flow mechanisms, transition process and onset of turbulence in a spacer-filled channel are investigated including the use of the velocity spectra at different Reynolds numbers. It is found that the flow is steady for Re < 200 and oscillatory at Re ∼ 250 and increasingly unsteady with further increases in Re before the onset of turbulent flow at Re ∼ 1000.