Pulsatile jet flows are found in many industrially relevant fluid mechanical problems. A common feature of these flows is that they are fundamentally a series of fluid pulses. This aspect of pulsatile jets implies vortex rings are a basic element of the resulting flow. The significance of this observation is based in part on the tendency of vortex rings to entrain ambient fluid during their formation, but more so on the recent discovery of the phenomenon of vortex ring pinch off. This phenomenon was characterized for starting jets (individual pulses) showing that for pulses sufficiently long with respect to the nozzle diameter (i.e., sufficiently large L/D), the vortex ring stops forming and pinches off from the generating jet. This represents a maximization principle for vortex ring formation and suggests that any effects associated with vortex ring formation in pulsatile jets (e.g., enhanced entrainment), might be able to be optimized by properly selecting the L/D for each pulse.

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