The current study investigates flow past a step cylinder for ReD = 1050 and D/d = 2 using both experimental and numerical methods. The focus of the study is on the vortex shedding and vortex interactions occurring in the step cylinder wake. Flow visualization with hydrogen bubble technique and planar Laser Induced Fluorescence has shown that three distinct spanwise vortex cells form: a single vortex shedding cell in the wake of the small cylinder and two vortex shedding cells in the wake of the large cylinder. Vortex connections form between the spanwise vortices in these cells downstream of the step, and vortex dislocations occur at cell boundaries. Complementary to the experimental tests, an LES-RANS hybrid numerical simulation is used to model the flow development. A comparison of the experimental and numerical results indicates that the numerical approach adequately models vortex dynamics in the wake of a step cylinder and, thus, may be used to analyze time dependent, three-dimensional flow topology which is difficult to characterize quantitatively using experimental methods.

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