Transport in Rayleigh-Stable Experimental Taylor-Couette Flow and Granular Electrification in a Shaking Experiment

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This dissertation consists of two projects: Rayleigh-stable Taylor-Couette flow and granular electrification.

Taylor-Couette flow is the fluid flow in the gap between two cylinders rotating at different rates. Azimuthal velocity profiles, dye visualization, and inner cylinder torques were measured on two geometrically similar Taylor-Couettes with axial boundaries attached to the outer cylinder, the Maryland and Twente T3C experiments. This was done in the Rayleigh stable regime, where the specific angular momentum increases radially, which is relevant to astrophysical and geophysical flows and in particular, stellar and planetary accretion disks. The flow substantially deviates from laminar Taylor-Couette flow beginning at moderate Reynolds number. Angular momentum is primarily transported to the axial boundaries instead of the outer cylinder due to Ekman pumping when the inner cylinder is rotating faster than the outer cylinder. A phase diagram was constructed from the transitions identified from torque measurements taken over four decades of the Reynolds number. Flow angular velocities larger and smaller than both cylinders were found. Together, these results indicate that experimental Taylor-Couette with axial boundaries attached to the outer cylinder is an imperfect model for accretion disk flows.

Thunderstorms, thunder-snow, volcanic ash clouds, and dust storms all display lightning, which results from electrification of droplets and particles in the atmosphere. While lightning is fairly well understood (plasma discharge), the mechanisms that result in million-volt differences across the storm are not. A novel granular electrification experiment was upgraded and used to study some of these mechanisms in the lab. The relative importance of collective interactions between particles versus particle properties (material, size, etc.) on collisional electrification was investigated. While particle properties have an order of magnitude effect on the strength of macroscopic electrification, all particle types electrified with dynamics that suggest a major role for collective interactions in electrification. Moreover, mixing two types of particles together does not lead to increased electrification except for specific combinations of particles which clump, which further points towards the importance of collective phenomena. These results help us better understand the mechanisms of electrification and lightning generation in certain atmospheric systems.