Unsteady numerical investigations of flow past a partially rotating stepped cylinder have been performed. The objective of the study was to investigate whether the wake characteristics could be controlled with rotation of one cylinder while the other remains stationary and how partial rotation impacts the aerodynamic forces. The stepped cylinder was 2 m in length where the first meter was a round cylinder 5 cm in diameter followed by a 2:1 step down cylinder. Two round end plates, 0.1 cm thick and 40 cm in diameter, were placed at each end. The end plates were positioned at 5 degrees with respectto the incoming flow to remove the end effect on vortex shedding. All simulations were performed using the Siemens PLM STAR-CCM+ CFD software with K-ω turbulence model. The time step was 0.00083 second to resolve the flow for each 10 degrees rotation. 1200 time steps were used. The investigations were performed with one cylinder rotating while the other remains stationary. Four cases were investigated. When either cylinder was rotating, the RPM was maintained at either 2000 or 4000 while the free stream velocity was maintained at 10 m/sec. The Reynolds number for the large and small cylinders were approximately 32,258 and 16,129, respectively. The corresponding velocity ratios λ for the large cylinder rotating were 0.5 and 1.0, and 0.25 and 1.0 for the small cylinder.

Previous investigations have classified vortical structure in the wake of a step cylinder in terms of L-cell (for large cylinder), S-cell (for small cylinder) and N-cell (the region in between). When the large cylinder is rotating, at λ = 1.0, the velocity and vorticity in the wake of the large cylinder is increased. The N-cell initially has a larger velocity than the L-cell and is at a slanted angle. A suction effect was observed in the near wake region, causing the flow in the L-cell to coalesce near its midsection. The vortices originated at the step were connected to the S-cell at a lower speed. The overall lift to drag ratio (L/D) for this case was 1.14. When λ = 0.5, vortex structures were maintained through the three different cells with increased variations in cell frequency across the large cylinder, the L/D was reduced to 0.36.

When the small cylinder was rotating, at λ = 0.5, vortex shedding was suppressed within the S-cell and considerable distortion was observed in the vortical structure in the wake of the large cylinder. However, the N-cell had similar structure as when large cylinder was rotating, but connecting to the L-cell at a larger slanted angle. When λ was reduced to 0.25, shedding was observed across the length of the cylinder with increased variations. The corresponding L/D ratios for these cases were both at 0.2.

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