Flow, Turbulence and Combustion

, Volume 99, Issue 3–4, pp 729–763 | Cite as

LES-based Study of the Roughness Effects on the Wake of a Circular Cylinder from Subcritical to Transcritical Reynolds Numbers

  • Ivette Rodriguez
  • Oriol Lehmkuhl
  • Ugo Piomelli
  • Jorge Chiva
  • Ricard Borrell
  • Assensi Oliva


This paper investigates the effects of surface roughness on the flow past a circular cylinder at subcritical to transcritical Reynolds numbers. Large eddy simulations of the flow for sand grain roughness of size k/D = 0.02 are performed (D is the cylinder diameter). Results show that surface roughness triggers the transition to turbulence in the boundary layer at all Reynolds numbers, thus leading to an early separation caused by the increased momentum deficit, especially at transcritical Reynolds numbers. Even at subcritical Reynolds numbers, boundary layer instabilities are triggered in the roughness sublayer and eventually lead to the transition to turbulence. The early separation at transcritical Reynolds numbers leads to a wake topology similar to that of the subcritical regime, resulting in an increased drag coefficient and lower Strouhal number. Turbulent statistics in the wake are also affected by roughness; the Reynolds stresses are larger due to the increased turbulent kinetic energy production in the boundary layer and separated shear layers close to the cylinder shoulders.


LES Vortex shedding Wakes Roughness 



We acknowledge “Red Española de Surpercomputación” (RES) for awarding us access to the MareNostrum III machine based in Barcelona, Spain (Ref. FI-2015-2-0026 and FI-2015-3-0011). We also acknowledge PRACE for awarding us access to Fermi and Marconi Supercomputers at Cineca, Italy (Ref. 2015133120). Oriol Lehmkuhl acknowledges a PDJ 2014 Grant by AGAUR (Generalitat de Catalunya). Ugo Piomelli acknowledges the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada under the Discovery Grant Programme (Grant No. RGPIN-2016-04391). Ricard Borrell acknowledges a Juan de la Cierva postdoctoral grant (IJCI-2014-21034). Ivette Rodriguez, Oriol Lehmkuhl, Ricard Borrell and Assensi Oliva acknowledge Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Secretaría de Estado de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación, Spain (ref. ENE2014-60577-R).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Turbulence and Aerodynamics Research Group (TUAREG)Universitat Politècnica de CatalunyaTerrassaSpain
  2. 2.Centre Tecnològic de Transferència de Calor (CTTC)Universitat Politècnica de CatalunyaTerrassaSpain
  3. 3.Barcelona Supercomputing Centre (BSC)BarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Department of Mechanical and Materials EngineeringQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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