Challenges in Simulating Turbulent Flows

In order to set the context for the modeling of turbulent flow it is essential to understand why turbulent flow simulations are challenging.

First, examine the turbulence characteristic non-repetition. Figure 1 shows two snapshots of smoke plumes from a burning incense stick. Both instantaneous plumes show the chaotic, continuously evolving movement of the smoke. Due to the sensitivity of the smoke plumes to surrounding conditions (temperature, density and cross flow velocity), the pattern of their movement never repeats. Thus, prediction on such instantaneous turbulent smoke evolutions is understood to be quite challenging.

Figure 1. Snapshots of Smoke Plumes