In this paper, we have reviewed the state-of-the-art of research on flow past a circular cylinder symmetrically placed between two parallel plates separated by a finite distance. Such flow, referred to as a confined flow or flow past a confined cylinder in this study, is characterized by the blockage ratio—the ratio of the cylinder diameter to the distance between the plates. Confined flows are common in engineering systems, but the interest in studying flows over confined cylinders was motivated by the need to correct unavoidable blockage effects in physical experiments for unconfined cylinders. A very early work on this topic was published in 1944. Since then, interest has gradually expanded to understanding the wake dynamics and hydrodynamic properties of confined cylinders at different blockage ratios. The emergence and further developments of the Computational Fluid Dynamics and Particle Image Velocimetry techniques have enabled researchers to unveil important and complex features of confined flows, such as the two-dimensional to three-dimensional flow transition, the analogy of the separated shear layers to mixing layers, different vortex shedding modes, and the asymmetry of confined flows at high blockage ratios. To date, there has been no systematic review dedicated to confined flows. The present review fills the gap and is aimed to provide a comprehensive account of relevant studies including a historical perspective of the studies, significant research findings, and most recent advancement of the knowledge. Further, we have also identified a number of research gaps for further investigations.

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