Validation Case Study: Flow Around a Cylinder

by Kelly Hile

Fluid flow around a cylinder is well-documented to have a series of vortices in its wake, depending on the velocity of the flow. This flow behavior is commonly referred to as the von Kármán vortex street or vortex shedding. The phenomena was first proven in 1911 by Theodore von Kármán and occurs on both the small and large scale, from flow around the strings of a musical instrument to atmospheric flow around buildings and islands.

Visualization of the Von Kármán vortex street behind a circular cylinder in air flow
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


Azore® CFD can be used to model unsteady flow conditions like this one, where the flow pattern changes or oscillates with time. A simple 2D model was correlated against a real-world flow visualization experiment in a water channel, showcasing Azore's ability to predict transient flow behavior.


Mesh for 2D Cylinder



Top – Real-world flow visualization with dye, courtesy of Jacob Albright
Bottom – Azore’s transient solution for 2D flow around a cylinder


The transient simulation in Azore was compared to the flow patterns in the water channel flow visualization, where the movement of orange dye highlights the downstream vortices. Azore accurately predicts the vortex shedding behavior around the cylinder.

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