The Role of Pair Dispersion in Turbulent Flow

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Science  10 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5762, pp. 835-838
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121726

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Mixing and transport in turbulent flows—which have strong local concentration fluctuations—are essential in many natural and industrial systems including reactions in chemical mixers, combustion in engines and burners, droplet formation in warm clouds, and biological odor detection and chemotaxis. Local concentration fluctuations, in turn, are intimately tied to the problem of the separation of pairs of fluid elements. We have measured this separation rate in an intensely turbulent laboratory flow and have found, in quantitative agreement with the seminal predictions of Batchelor, that the initial separation of the pair plays an important role in the subsequent spreading of the fluid elements. These results have surprising consequences for the decay of concentration fluctuations and have applications to biological and chemical systems.

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