Investigating the Kármán vortex street using Energy2D

June 30th, 2012 by Charles Xie
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The Kármán vortex street is a repeating pattern of swirling vortices caused by the unsteady separation of flow of a fluid over bluff bodies. It is named after the great scientist Theodore von Kármán who co-founded NASA's JPL. This effect is observable in nature like in a stream, but you need some luck since it requires some picky conditions that are not always there for you.

Now, with our online simulation program Energy2D you can create and investigate the Kármán vortex street in your browser without depending on Mother Nature to give you an opportunity window.

For example, you can test how big an obstacle should be in order to produce this effect. You will find that an obstacle must be large enough to create a steady vortex street. If the shape of the obstacle is not streamlined, what will you see?

If you stick a thermometer in a thermal vortex street, you should see that the temperature will swing pretty regularly between a high value and a low value (see the image to the right). This means this effect could be used to warm and cool an array of things periodically. Could there be some engineering use of this?

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