Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Physics


Raymond A Shaw


We present studies of the spatial clustering of inertial particles embedded in turbulent flow. A major part of the thesis is experimental, involving the technique of Phase Doppler Interferometry (PDI). The thesis also includes significant amount of simulation studies and some theoretical considerations. We describe the details of PDI and explain why it is suitable for study of particle clustering in turbulent flow with a strong mean velocity. We introduce the concept of the radial distribution function (RDF) as our chosen way of quantifying inertial particle clustering and present some original works on foundational and practical considerations related to it. These include methods of treating finite sampling size, interpretation of the magnitude of RDF and the possibility of isolating RDF signature of inertial clustering from that of large scale mixing. In experimental work, we used the PDI to observe clustering of water droplets in a turbulent wind tunnel. From that we present, in the form of a published paper, evidence of dynamical similarity (Stokes number similarity) of inertial particle clustering together with other results in qualitative agreement with available theoretical prediction and simulation results. We next show detailed quantitative comparisons of results from our experiments, direct-numerical-simulation (DNS) and theory. Very promising agreement was found for like-sized particles (mono-disperse). Theory is found to be incorrect regarding clustering of different-sized particles and we propose a empirical correction based on the DNS and experimental results. Besides this, we also discovered a few interesting characteristics of inertial clustering. Firstly, through observations, we found an intriguing possibility for modeling the RDF arising from inertial clustering that has only one (sensitive) parameter. We also found that clustering becomes saturated at high Reynolds number.

Included in

Physics Commons