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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The condition of fluid flow has been proven to have a significant influence on a wide variety of material processes. In electromagnetic levitation (EML) experiments, the internal flow is driven primarily by electromagnetic forces. In 1-g, the positioning forces are very strong and the internal flows are turbulent. To reduce the flows driven by the levitation field, experiments may be performed in reduced gravity and parabolic flights experiments have been adopted as the support in advance. Tracer particles on the surface of levitated droplets in EML experiment performed by SUPOS have been used to investigate the transition from laminar to turbulent flow. A sample of NiAl3 was electromagnetically levitated in parabolic flight and the laminar-turbulent transition observed from the case was studied in this work. For the sample with clearly visible tracer patterns, the fluid flow has been numerical evaluated with magnetohydrodynamic models and the laminar-turbulent transition happened during the acceleration of the flow, instead of steady state. The Reynolds number at transition was estimated approximately as 860 by the experiment record. The predicted time to transition obtained from the results of simulation showed significant difference (~ up to 300 times) compared with the time obtained from the experiment—0.37s.

The discrepancy between numerical and experimental results could not be explained by the proposed hypotheses: geometry, boundary conditions or solid core. The simulations predict that the flow would become turbulent almost instantaneously after the droplet was fully molten. There are important physics shown by the simulation which were not captured.


First Advisor

Robert W Hyers