Quantification of modelling uncertainties in turbulent flow simulations

Abstract : The goal of this thesis is to make predictive simulations with Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) turbulence models, i.e. simulations with a systematic treatment of model and data uncertainties and their propagation through a computational model to produce predictions of quantities of interest with quantified uncertainty. To do so, we make use of the robust Bayesian statistical framework.The first step toward our goal concerned obtaining estimates for the error in RANS simulations based on the Launder-Sharma k-e turbulence closure model, for a limited class of flows. In particular we searched for estimates grounded in uncertainties in the space of model closure coefficients, for wall-bounded flows at a variety of favourable and adverse pressure gradients. In order to estimate the spread of closure coefficients which reproduces these flows accurately, we performed 13 separate Bayesian calibrations. Each calibration was at a different pressure gradient, using measured boundary-layer velocity profiles, and a statistical model containing a multiplicative model inadequacy term in the solution space. The results are 13 joint posterior distributions over coefficients and hyper-parameters. To summarize this information we compute Highest Posterior-Density (HPD) intervals, and subsequently represent the total solution uncertainty with a probability box (p-box). This p-box represents both parameter variability across flows, and epistemic uncertainty within each calibration. A prediction of a new boundary-layer flow is made with uncertainty bars generated from this uncertainty information, and the resulting error estimate is shown to be consistent with measurement data.However, although consistent with the data, the obtained error estimates were very large. This is due to the fact that a p-box constitutes a unweighted prediction. To improve upon this, we developed another approach still based on variability in model closure coefficients across multiple flow scenarios, but also across multiple closure models. The variability is again estimated using Bayesian calibration against experimental data for each scenario, but now Bayesian Model-Scenario Averaging (BMSA) is used to collate the resulting posteriors in an unmeasured (prediction) scenario. Unlike the p-boxes, this is a weighted approach involving turbulence model probabilities which are determined from the calibration data. The methodology was applied to the class of turbulent boundary-layers subject to various pressure gradients. For all considered prediction scenarios the standard-deviation of the stochastic estimate is consistent with the measurement ground truth.The BMSA approach results in reasonable error bars, which can also be decomposed into separate contributions. However, to apply it to more complex topologies outside the class of boundary-layer flows, surrogate modelling techniques must be applied. The Simplex-Stochastic Collocation (SSC) method is a robust surrogate modelling technique used to propagate uncertain input distributions through a computer code. However, its use of the Delaunay triangulation can become prohibitively expensive for problems with dimensions higher than 5. We therefore investigated means to improve upon this bad scalability. In order to do so, we first proposed an alternative interpolation stencil technique based upon the Set-Covering problem, which resulted in a significant speed up when sampling the full-dimensional stochastic space. Secondly, we integrated the SSC method into the High-Dimensional Model-Reduction framework in order to avoid sampling high-dimensional spaces all together.Finally, with the use of our efficient surrogate modelling technique, we applied the BMSA framework to the transonic flow over an airfoil. With this we are able to make predictive simulations of computationally expensive flow problems with quantified uncertainty due to various imperfections in the turbulence models.
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Wouter Nico Edeling. Quantification of modelling uncertainties in turbulent flow simulations. Fluids mechanics [physics.class-ph]. Ecole nationale supérieure d'arts et métiers - ENSAM, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015ENAM0007⟩. ⟨tel-01555595⟩

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