High-Reynolds-number turbulence in small apparatus: Grid turbulence in cryogenic liquids

Christopher M. White, Adonios N. Karpetis, Katepalli R. Sreenivasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Liquid helium at 4.2 K has a viscosity that is about 40 times smaller than that of water at room temperature, and about 600 times smaller than that of air at atmospheric pressure. It is therefore a convenient fluid for generating in a table-top apparatus turbulent flows at high Reynolds numbers that require large air and water facilities. Here, we produce turbulence behind towed grids in a liquid helium chamber that is 5 cm2 in cross-section at mesh Reynolds numbers of up to 7 × 105. Liquid nitrogen is intermediate in its viscosity as well as refrigeration demands, and so we also exploit its use to generate towed-grid turbulence up to mesh Reynolds number of about 2 × 104. In both instances, we map two-dimensional fields of velocity vectors using particle image velocimetry, and compare the data with those in water and air.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-197
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Feb 10 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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