The maximum drag reduction in turbulent pipe flow of dilute polymer solutions is ultimately limited by a unique asymptote described by the experimental correlation:
The semilogarithmic mean velocity profile corresponding to and inferred from this ultimate asymptote has a mixing-length constant of 0.085 and shares a trisection (at y+ ∼ 12) with the Newtonian viscous sublayer and law of the wall. Experimental mean velocity profiles taken during drag reduction lie in the region bounded by the inferred ultimate profile and the Newtonian law of the wall. At low drag reductions the experimental profiles are well correlated by an “effective slip” model but this fails progressively with increasing drag reduction. Based on the foregoing a three-zone scheme is proposed to model the mean flow structure during drag reduction. In this the mean velocity profile segments are (a) a viscous sublayer, akin to Newtonian, (b) an interactive zone, characteristic of drag reduction, in which the ultimate profile is followed, and (c) a turbulent core in which the Newtonian mixing-length constant applies. The proposed model is consistent with experimental observations and reduces satisfactorily to the Taylor-Prandtl scheme and the ultimate profile, respectively, at the limits of zero and maximum drag reductions.
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