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David Richter
University of Massachusetts
B.S. Mechanical Engineering

The macroscopic simulation of viscoelastic flows has been extremely important in understanding and studying certain applications, and a well-known example of this is the numerical prediction of polymer induced turbulent drag reduction for use on large marine vessels. By modeling the presence of polymer molecules through the use of various constitutive models (e.g. FENE-P), numerical simulations can provide answers to many unanswered questions regarding how the presence of polymers alters high Reynolds number flows.

The project focus has recently shifted away from the specific case of turbulent drag reduction and has now broadened its scope to include more complex systems. Now in its initial stages, work is currently being done to investigate the flow of these same types of polymer solutions over bluff bodies in order to obtain information about how wake dynamics and turbulent transition are affected by viscoelasticity. With this kind of information, feasibility of various polymer injection techniques can be assessed. For instance, experimental work is currently being done at the University of Michigan which has observed a near complete suppression of cavitation from marine propellers through the use of polymer injection. Because the physical processes behind effects such as these are still not well understood, it is the goal of this project to use numerical simulation to provide physical explanations as well as a method of feasibility assessment.

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