Turbulence is well known for its ability to efficiently disperse matter, whether it be atmospheric pollutants or gasoline in combustion motors. Two considerations are fundamental when considering such situations. First, the underlying flow may have a strong influence of the behavior of the dispersed particles. Second, the local concentration of particles may enhance or impede the transport properties of turbulence. This dissertation addresses these points separately through the experimental study of two different turbulent flows.
The first experimental device used is the so-called von K\'arm\'an flow which consists of an enclosed vessel filled with water that is forced by two counter rotating disks creating a strongly inhomogeneous and anisotropic turbulence. Two high-speed cameras permitted the creation a trajectory data base particles that were both isodense and heavier than water but were smaller than the smallest turbulent scales. The trajectories of this data base permitted a study of the turbulent kinetic energy budget which was shown to directly related to the transport properties of the turbulent flow. The heavy particles illustrate the role of flow anisotropy in the dispersive dynamics of particles dominated by effects related to their inertia.
The second flow studied was a wind tunnel seeded with micrometer sized water droplets which was used to study the effects of local concentration of the settling velocities of these particles. A model based on theoretical multi-phase methods was developed in order to take into account the role of collective effects on sedimentation in a turbulent flow. The theoretical results emphasize the role of coupling between the underlying flow and the dispersed phase.