Introducton to Boundary LayersViscous Effects in External Flows
The analysis we have carried out so far are such that viscosity did not make a direct appearance.Then the potential flows we considered in the previous Chapters were inviscid, i.e., we deliberatelyignored viscosity. In reality these flows are theoretical. we saw in the case of flow about a cylinder how viscosity alters the flow completely aft of the cylinder and its consequences. Any real flow innature is viscous. In fact, it is viscosity that makes the flow interesting and of course challenging tounderstand and calculate. It is viscosity that gives rise to many of the interesting physical features of aflow. One other area that makes a flow exciting even though inviscid is that of compressible flow.The birth and development of a Boundary Layer, its transition, the way a flow handles a pressuregradient and a possible separation are some of the topics we consider in this chapter. We postponeany discussion of the calculation procedures to later chapters and deal with only qualitative features atpresent.
Boundary Layer Flow
Recall our discussion in the very first chapter we had two parallel plates. One of the plates wasstationary (the lower one) and the other one moving. We said that there was a No Slip condition,which meant that the fluid does not slip past the solid in contact. Needless to say that this is a typicaleffect of viscosity.
Formation of a Boundary Layer Let us now follow the effects as a flow approaches a solid body, to make it simple, a flat plate, Fig 1.Consider a uniform (inviscid) flow in front of a flat plate at a speed
. As soon as the flow 'hits'the plate No Slip Conditions gets into action. As a result, the velocity on the body becomes zero.Since the effect of viscosity is to resist fluid motion, the velocity close to the solid surface continuouslydecreases towards downstream. But away from the flat plate the speed is equal to the freestreamvalue of
. Consequently a velocity gradient is set up in the fluid in a direction normal to flow.Thus a layer establishes itself close to the wall with a velocity gradient. This is what we call theBoundary Layer . We will find out later that this is a high Reynolds Number concept and is due toPrandtl, a leading German Aerodynamicist. The boundary layer is not a static phenomenon. It isdynamic. The thickness of boundary layer (the height from the solid surface where we first encounter 99% of free stream speed) continuously increases. A shear stress develops on the solid wall. It is thisshear stress that causes drag on the plate.Boundary layer has a pronounced effect upon any object which is immersed and moving in a fluid.Drag on an aeroplane or a ship and friction in a pipe are some of the common manifestations of boundary layer. Understandably, boundary layer has become a very important branch of fluid dynamicresearch.