Recirculating fluid regions occur in the human body both naturally and pathologically. Diffusion is commonly considered the predominant mechanism for mass transport into a recirculating flow region. While this may be true for steady flows, one must also consider the possibility of convective fluid exchange when the outer (free stream) flow is transient. In the case of an open cavity, convective exchange occurs via the formation of lobes at the downstream attachment point of the separating streamline. Previous studies revealed the effect of forcing amplitude and frequency on material transport rates into a square cavity (Horner in J Fluid Mech 452:199–229, 2002). This paper summarizes the effect of cavity aspect ratio on exchange rates. The transport process is characterized using both computational fluid dynamics modeling and dye-advection experiments. Lagrangian analysis of the computed flow field reveals the existence of turnstile lobe transport for this class of flows. Experiments show that material exchange rates do not vary linearly as a function of the cavity aspect ratio (A = W/H). Rather, optima are predicted for A ≈ 2 and A ≈ 2.73, with a minimum occurring at A ≈ 2.5. The minimum occurs at the point where the cavity flow structure bifurcates from a single recirculating flow cell into two corner eddies. These results have significant implications for mass transport environments where the geometry of the flow domain evolves with time, such as coronary stents and growing aneurysms. Indeed, device designers may be able to take advantage of the turnstile-lobe transport mechanism to tailor deposition rates near newly implanted medical devices.
- Recirculating flow