Results reported in the literature have shown that the turbulence models currently implemented in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) commercial codes (e.g., ANSYS-CFX, STAR-CCM+, and FLUENT) have a tendency to overestimate thermal stratification and underestimate turbulent mixing when buoyancy effects become dominant with respect to momentum effects. Also, standard large eddy simulation models cannot fully capture the behavior of jets interacting with stratified environments because the assumption of turbulence isotropy of the smaller scales breaks down. Because of light diffraction and image distortion, it is challenging to apply nonintrusive optical flow measurements, like particle image velocimetry (PIV) and planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF), to get experimental data for CFD validations when there are density variances involved in the flow. However, a refractive index matching (RIM) technique that has been recently developed in our Experimental and Computational Multiphase Flow Laboratory allows us to perform high-resolution measurements of velocity fields and scalar fields for turbulent buoyant jet flow in the presence of density differences as high as 8.6%.

To form a fully turbulent round free jet, an experimental facility was designed with a jet nozzle diameter of 2 mm, located at the bottom of a cubic tank with 30-cm side length. The jet flow is established by a servo-engine-driven piston to eliminate possible fluctuations introduced by the motor. A high-fidelity synchronized PIV/PLIF system was utilized in conjunction with RIM to measure the velocity and concentration fields in the self-similar regions of a jet flow with a density difference of 3.16% for aqueous solutions. With Reynolds numbers of 4000 and 10 000, the jet impinging with a two-layer stably stratified environment is compared to the positively buoyant jet with lighter fluid injected into denser surroundings. Detailed quantifications of the measurement uncertainties are also carried out. The experimental results are presented in terms of turbulent statistics and the analysis of jet penetration depths.