Elasto-inertial turbulence

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jun 25;110(26):10557-62. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1219666110. Epub 2013 Jun 11.


Turbulence is ubiquitous in nature, yet even for the case of ordinary Newtonian fluids like water, our understanding of this phenomenon is limited. Many liquids of practical importance are more complicated (e.g., blood, polymer melts, paints), however; they exhibit elastic as well as viscous characteristics, and the relation between stress and strain is nonlinear. We demonstrate here for a model system of such complex fluids that at high shear rates, turbulence is not simply modified as previously believed but is suppressed and replaced by a different type of disordered motion, elasto-inertial turbulence. Elasto-inertial turbulence is found to occur at much lower Reynolds numbers than Newtonian turbulence, and the dynamical properties differ significantly. The friction scaling observed coincides with the so-called "maximum drag reduction" asymptote, which is exhibited by a wide range of viscoelastic fluids.

Keywords: elastic instabilities; non-Newtonian fluids; polymer drag reduction; transition to turbulence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Elasticity*
  • Hydrodynamics*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Rheology
  • Viscosity
  • Water


  • Polymers
  • Water