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Models & measures of mixing & effective diffusion

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  • Mixing a passive scalar field by stirring can be measured in a variety of ways including tracer particle dispersion, via the flux-gradient relationship, or by suppression of scalar concentration variations in the presence of inhomogeneous sources and sinks. The mixing efficiency or efficacy of a particular flow is often expressed in terms of enhanced diffusivity and quantified as an effective diffusion coefficient. In this work we compare and contrast several notions of effective diffusivity. We thoroughly examine the fundamental case of a steady sinusoidal shear flow mixing a scalar sustained by a steady sinusoidal source-sink distribution to explore apparent quantitative inconsistencies among the measures. Ultimately the conflicts are attributed to the noncommutative asymptotic limits of large Péclet number and large length-scale separation. We then propose another approach, a generalization of Batchelor's 1949 theory of diffusion in homogeneous turbulence, that helps unify the particle dispersion and concentration variance suppression measures.
    Mathematics Subject Classification: 76F25, 76M50, 74Q20, 76R05.


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