Flow over a cylinder is a fundamental fluid mechanics problem that involves a simple geometry, yet increasingly complex flow patterns as the Reynolds number is increased, most notably the development of a Karman vortex with a natural vortex shedding frequency when the Reynolds number exceeds a value of about 40. The goal of this ongoing study is to numerically investigate the effect of an incoming free-stream velocity pulsation with a mean Reynolds number of 100 on the drag and lift forces over and vorticity dynamics behind a circular cylinder. This paper reports on initial results involving unsteady, laminar and incompressible flows over a circular cylinder. Sinusoidal free-stream pulsations with amplitudes Av varying between 25% and 75% of the mean free-stream velocity and frequencies varying between 0.25 and 5 times the natural shedding frequency fs were considered. Of particular interest to us is the interaction between the pulsating frequency and natural vortex shedding frequency and the resulting effects on drag. Interestingly, at frequencies close to the natural frequency, and to twice the natural frequency, a sudden drop in the mean value of the drag coefficient is observed. The first drop in the drag coefficient, i.e. near f = fs, is also accompanied by a change in the flow and vortex shedding patterns observed behind the cylinder. This change in vortex shedding pattern manifests itself as a departure from symmetrical shedding, and in a non-zero mean lift coefficient value. The second drop, i.e. near f = 2 fs, has similar characteristics, except that the mean lift coefficient remains at zero.

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