skip to main content

Ph.D. Thesis Defense

Friday, July 12, 2024
1:00pm to 2:00pm
Add to Cal
Gates-Thomas 135
Modal Analysis of Harmonically Forced Turbulent Flows with Application to Jets
Liam Heidt, Graduate Student, Aerospace, Caltech,


Many turbulent flows exhibit time-periodic statistics.  These include flows in turbomachinery, the wakes of bluff bodies, and flows exposed to harmonic actuation.  However, many existing techniques for identifying and modeling coherent structures, most notably spectral proper orthogonal decomposition (SPOD) and resolvent analysis, assume statistical stationarity.  In this thesis, we develop extensions to study turbulent flows with periodic statistics. We focus on the application of turbulent jets and jet noise reduction through harmonic actuation, which is of interest for both commercial and military aviation due to its success in reducing noise by up to 5 dB. 

To analyze the coherent structures in harmonically forced flows, we develop the cyclostationary spectral proper orthogonal decomposition (CS-SPOD). We examine the resulting properties of CS-SPOD and develop a theoretical connection between CS-SPOD and harmonic resolvent analysis (HRA), thereby providing the theoretical basis for HRA to be used as a model for coherent structures of cyclostationary flows. We develop and validate a computationally efficient algorithm and then illustrate its efficacy using the linearized (complex) Ginzburg-Landau equation.

We next employ cyclostationary analysis to investigate the impact of an axisymmetric acoustic harmonic forcing on the mean, turbulence, and coherent structures of a round turbulent jet with a Mach number of 0.4 and a Reynolds number of 450000.  We perform large-eddy simulations for four cases at two forcing frequencies and amplitudes. Both low-frequency (Strouhal number of 0.3) and high-frequency (Strouhal number of 1.5) forcing is found to generate an energetic, nonlinear, tonal response consisting of the rollup of vortices via the Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism. However, the impact of forcing on the broadband turbulence and coherent structures is limited, particularly at the low forcing amplitude associated with jet-noise-reduction devices.  Additionally, the dominant coherent structures for the forced jets are similar in their energy, structure, and mechanism.  At high forcing amplitudes, phase-dependent features arise in the dominant coherent structures and are associated with coupling to the high-velocity/shear regions of the mean. Overall, our results support the existing hypotheses that jet noise reduction can be associated with the deformation of the mean flow field rather than through direct interaction between the forcing and the turbulence. Lastly, we find that HRA predicts the dominant coherent structures well. This shows that HRA can be used to develop models of forced jets in a similar manner to how resolvent is employed for natural jets, which may be useful to guide future sound-source models of jets subjected to active control.

For more information, please contact Mikaela Laite by email at [email protected] or visit