Direct numerical simulation of turbulent pipe flow at moderately high reynolds numbers

George K. El Khoury, Philipp Schlatter, Azad Noorani, Paul F. Fischer, Geert Brethouwer, Arne V. Johansson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fully resolved direct numerical simulations (DNSs) have been performed with a high-order spectral element method to study the flow of an incompressible viscous fluid in a smooth circular pipe of radius R and axial length 25R in the turbulent flow regime at four different friction Reynolds numbers Re τ = 180, 360, 550 and 1,000. The new set of data is put into perspective with other simulation data sets, obtained in pipe, channel and boundary layer geometry. In particular, differences between different pipe DNS are highlighted. It turns out that the pressure is the variable which differs the most between pipes, channels and boundary layers, leading to significantly different mean and pressure fluctuations, potentially linked to a stronger wake region. In the buffer layer, the variation with Reynolds number of the inner peak of axial velocity fluctuation intensity is similar between channel and boundary layer flows, but lower for the pipe, while the inner peak of the pressure fluctuations show negligible differences between pipe and channel flows but is clearly lower than that for the boundary layer, which is the same behaviour as for the fluctuating wall shear stress. Finally, turbulent kinetic energy budgets are almost indistinguishable between the canonical flows close to the wall (up to y + ≈ 100), while substantial differences are observed in production and dissipation in the outer layer. A clear Reynolds number dependency is documented for the three flow configurations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-495
Number of pages21
JournalFlow, Turbulence and Combustion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Boundary layers
  • Channels
  • Direct numerical simulation
  • Pipes
  • Wall turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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