IRPHE - Institut de Recherche sur les Phénomènes Hors Equilibre

The laboratory IRPHE has been studying hydrodynamical instabilities for more than 15 years, with an emphasis on the instabilities of vortices in fundamental and industrial configurations (airplane wakes and turbo-pumps). The institute has gained a renowned expertise concerning the experimental and theoretical characterisation of instabilities in model flows.
The team «Geophysical and rotating flows» of IRPHE has been created in 2005 in order to transfer these experimental and theoretical knowledge from homogeneous fluids to geophysical flows (stratified and rotating). The recent theoretical and experimental results obtained by this team on the radiative instability of a tall columnar vortex will be extended to the case of a flat lens-shaped vortex, which is a key step in the global project. Moreover, the
presence at IRPHE of a small rotating platform will allow to validate the theoretical approach and to complement the experiments on the rotating platform ‘Coriolis’.
Finally, the team «Geophysics» of IRPHE will highly benefit from this project because it will bring its researchers, issued from the engineering community, closer to researchers of the other laboratories, which are deeply involved in the oceanographic community.

The general scope of this pluri-disciplinary research institute is the modelling of complex macroscopic systems through their experimental, analytical and numerical aspects.

Director : Michel Provansal, University Professor "Université Paul Cézanne" Joint-Director : Patrice Le Gal

IRPHE is an institute run under the joint authority of the French CNRS and two Universities : Aix-Marseille I and II ("Université de Provence" and "Université de la Méditerranée"). IRPHE was created in January 1995 by the fusion of three Marseilles laboratories, in the "Sciences pour l’Ingénieur" sector of the CNRS, working in the field of Fluid Mechanics and Energetics : "l’Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Marseille" (IMFM, ex UMR 34), "l’Institut de Mécanique Statistique de la Turbulence" (IMST, ex UMR 33) and the "Laboratoire de Recherche en Combustion" (LRC, ex URA 1117).It has been reorganized on January 1, 2000.

The general scope of this pluri-disciplinary research institute is the modelling of complex macroscopic systems through their experimental, analytical and numerical aspects. It is covering the field of non-equilibrium phenomena, in the domains of Fluid Mechanics, Macroscopic Physics, and Numerical Modelling. The different research themes are related to energetics, hydrodynamics, oceanography, ondensed matter, biomechanics, and biophysics.

Centred on fundamental research, IRPHE also covers the problems of applied research related to the various themes engaged.

At the present time IRPHE is distributed geographically over two sites in the Marseilles region : Château-Gombert and Luminy.


The institute totals 76 permanent staff members : - 24 CNRS research staff, - 21 University teaching staff (all three Universities of Aix-Marseille), - 23 CNRS engineers, technical and administrative staff - 8 University engineers, technical and administrative staff


- Several major equipments, in particular : wind tunnels and water tunnels. a subsonic wind tunnel 100m/s 4m diameter and a water-air tunnel 40m long 3m wide and 1.5m water depth.

Industrial applications :

- Aeronautical industries : AIRBUS Industrie, SNECMA, ONERA, DRET - Space transportation : ESA, CNES, DRET, SNPE, SEP (Ariane V) - Naval construction : DCN, DRET, - Terrestrial transportation : SNCF, RENAULT, IFP, PEUGEOT - Electro-nuclear industries and security : COGEMA, CEA, INERIS, EDF - Environment : IFREMER, CEA, CISI, AIR LIQUIDE

L’Institut est une unité mixte de recherche du CNRS, d’Aix-Marseille Université et de l’Ecole Centrale Marseille. La thématique générale de cet institut pluridisciplinaire est la modélisation de systèmes macroscopiques complexes avec des applications dans l’aéronautique, l’environnement, l’énergétique et la biomécanique.