Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Yves Dubief


Rapid surface ablation by a turbulent flow creates complex flow and surface phenomena arising from the evolving boundary topography and its interaction with a turbulent flow that transports the ablative agent onto the surface. The dynamic nature of ablative flow boundaries generate unsteady flow dynamics and thermodynamics occurring over a wide range of scales. The non-equilibrium nature of these phenomena pose a major challenge to the current fundamental understanding of turbulence, which is mostly derived from equilibrium flows, and to Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). The simulation of moving boundaries is a necessary tradeoff between computational speed and accuracy. The most accurate methods use surface-conforming grids, forcing the grid to move and deform in time at a high computational cost. The technique used in this study, immersed boundary methods, removes the need for a surface-conforming grid, typically at the expense of numerical accuracy. The objectives of the present study are (i) to develop an Energy Immersed Boundary Method (EIBM) to simulate conjugate heat transfer and phase change with a spatial order of accuracy larger than one, and (ii) use the EIBM to study the dynamics of ablative flows.

A generalized finite volume (FV) flow solver with second-order accuracy in time and space and energy conserving schemes is the basis of the EIBM algorithm development. The EIBM com- bines level-set method for the definition and transport of the fluid/solid interface with an immersed boundary method, i.e. a modification of the transport equation to enforce the proper boundary conditions at the solid surface. The proposed algorithm is shown to be second order accurate in space in the simulation of conjugate heat transfer flows. The validation also included comparison with phase-change (melting) experiments where it was shown to correlate very well to previous ex- periments of a rectangular slab of gallium melted from one side. As well as showing second order convergence for the mass loss and the ablated shape of a cylinder in a melting cross flow.

The EIBM is applied to an investigation of the interactions between turbulence and an erodible surface. The study first focuses on the response of a turbulent flow over a receding wall, with constant recession velocity. It is found that wall recession velocities, near the small scale, the Kolmorgorov microscale, velocity of the buffer layer, produce minute shear free layers near the wall which both enhanced and stretched out the low and high velocity streaks near the wall. The larger streak area produced larger turbulent intensities on the dynamic boundary side of the channel, and far more semi-streamwise vortices. In the Second study the EIBM is applied to the ablation of a generic slab in a turbulent channel heated from one side in the absence of gravity. The study focuses on the characterization of the surface topography in relation to the evolution of coherent structures in the flow as ablation proceeds. The produced surface topology is linked to the flow topology and the turbulent generating and dissipating forces inside the turbulent flow. It is shown that the streaks for stefan numbers producing average ablation velocities slightly smaller than the Kolmorgorov microscale create groves in which the high speed buffer layer streaks sit, and their sinus motion in the spanwise direction is reduced.



Number of Pages

212 p.