An Experimental Investigation of the Drag on Idealised Rigid, Emergent Vegetation and Other Obstacles in Turbulent Free-Surface Flows.

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Francis Henry Robertson


Vegetation is commonly modelled as emergent arrays of rigid, circular cylinders. However, the drag coefficient (CD) of real stems or trunks is closer to that of cylinders with a square cross-section. In this thesis, vegetation has been idealised as square cylinders in laboratory experiments with a turbulence intensity of the order of 10% which is similar to that of typical river flows. These cylinders may also represent other obstacles such as architectural structures. This research has determined CD of an isolated cylinder and cylinder pairs as a function of position as well as the average drag coefficient (CDv) of larger arrays. A strain gauge was used to measure CD whilst CDv was computed with a momentum balance which was validated by strain gauge measurements for a regularly spaced array. The velocity and turbulence intensity surrounding a pair of cylinders arranged one behind the other with respect to mean flow (in tandem) were also measured with an Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter.The isolated cylinder CD was found to be 2.11 in close agreement with other researchers. Under fixed flow conditions CD for a cylinder in a pair was found to be as low as -0.40 and as high as 3.46 depending on their relative positioning. For arrays, CDv was influenced more by the distribution of cylinders than the flow conditions over the range of conditions tested. Mean values of CDv for each array were found to be between 1.52 and 3.06. This new insight therefore suggests that CDv for vegetation in bulk may actually be much higher than the typical value of 1 which is often assumed to apply in practice. If little other information is available, a crude estimate of CDv = 2 would be reasonable for many practical applications.The validity of a 2D realizable k-epsilon turbulence model for predicting the flow around square cylinders was evaluated. The model was successful in predicting CD for an isolated cylinder. In this regard the model performed as well as Large Eddy Simulations by other authors with a significant increase in computational efficiency. However, the numerical model underestimates CD of downstream cylinders in tandem pairs and overestimates velocities in their wake. This suggests it may be necessary to expand the model to three-dimensions when attempting to simulate the flow around two or more bluff obstacles with sharp edges.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2016