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The analysis of the disturbances on a spiraling base flow is relevant for the design, operation, and control of technological devices such as parallel-disk turbines and swirl flow channel heat sinks. Spiraling inflow inside an annular cavity closed at the top and bottom is analyzed in the framework of modal and nonmodal stability theories. Local and parallel flow approximations are applied, and the inhomogeneous direction is discretized using the Chebyshev collocation method. The optimal growth of initial disturbances and the optimal response to external harmonic forcing are characterized by the exponential and the resolvent of the dynamics matrix. As opposed to plane Poiseuille flow, transient growth is small, and consequently, it does not play a role in the transition mechanism. The transition is attributed to a crossflow instability that occurs because of the change in the shape of the velocity profile due to rotational effects. Agreement is found between the critical Reynolds number predicted in this work and the deviation of laminar behavior observed in the experiments conducted by Ruiz and Carey (J Heat Transfer 137(7):071702, 2015). For the harmonically driven problem, an energy amplification of O(100) is observed for spiral crossflow waves. Transition to turbulence should be avoided to ensure the safe operation of a parallel-disk turbine, whereas large forcing amplification may be sought to promote mixing in a swirl flow channel heat sink. The analysis presented predicts and provides insight into the transition mechanisms. Due to its easy implementation and low computational cost, it is particularly useful for the early stages of engineering design.


Herrmann-Priesnitz, B.;  Calderon-Munoz, W. R.;  Soto, R.

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