Transitional Flow in a Rushton Turbine Stirred Tank

Yulong Zhang, Zhengming Gao, Zhipeng Li, J.J. Derksen

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36 Citations (Scopus)
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The way in which the single phase flow of Newtonian liquids in the vicinity of the impeller in a Rushton turbine stirred tank goes through a laminar – turbulent transition has been studied in detail experimentally (with Particle Image Velocimetry, PIV) as well as computationally. For Reynolds numbers equal to or higher than 6,000, the average velocities and velocity fluctuation levels scale well with the impeller tip speed, i.e. show Reynolds independent behavior. Surprising flow structures were measured – and confirmed through independent experimental repetitions – at Reynolds numbers around 1,300. Upon reducing the Reynolds number from values in the fully turbulent regime, the trailing vortex system behind the impeller blades weakens with the upper vortex weakening much stronger than the lower vortex. Simulations with a variety of methods (direct numerical simulations, transitional turbulence modeling) and software implementations (ANSYS-Fluent commercial software, lattice-Boltzmann in-house software) have only partial success in representing the experimentally observed laminar – turbulent transition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3610–3623
Number of pages14
JournalAIChE Journal
Issue number8
Early online date7 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China


  • transitional flow
  • stereoscopic particle image velocimetry
  • Rushton turbine
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • stirred tank


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