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Jaafar
Chapter 7: Similitude,
Dimensional Analysis and
Modeling
Concept of Similitude
Dimensional analysis
Buckingham Pi Theorem
Determination of Pi Terms
Some comments about dimensional analysis
Common dimensionless groups in Fluid Mechanics
Modeling and Similitude
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Concept of Similitude
The concept of similitude is used so
that measurements made on one
system (for example, in the
laboratory) can be used to describe
the behavior of other similar systems
(outside laboratory)
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Dimensional Analysis
Dimensional analysis involve
reducing the number of original
variables to a number of groups
which are dimensionless
combinations of the original
variables.
The basis of its application to a wide
variety of problems is found in the
Buckingham Pi theorem.
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Buckingham Pi Theorem
If an equation involving k variables is
dimensionally homogeneous, it can
be reduced to a relationship between
only n dimensionless variables or
[’s. The reduction j=k-n equals the
maximum number of variables which
do not form a pi among themselves
and is always less than or equal to
the number of dimensions describing
the variables.
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Buckingham Pi Theorem
(cont.)
Q : Dimensionally Homogeneous?
A : Principle of dimensional
homogeneity
If an equation truly expresses a
proper relationship between
variables in a physical process, it will
be dimensionally homogeneous; i.e.
each of its additive terms will have
the same dimensions.
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Determination of Pi Terms
What are Pi ( [ )Terms ?
dimensionless products that arise in a
dimensional analysis
There are several methods that can
be used to determine the pi terms
One of them is the method of
repeating variables
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Determination of Pi Terms
Method of repeating variables
(1) List all the variables that are involved in the problem
(variables must be independent)
(2) Express each of the variables in terms of the basic
dimensions
(3) Determine the required number of pi terms
(4) Select a number of repeating variables, where the number
required is equal to the number of reference dimensions
(5) Form a pi term by multiplying one of the nonrepeating
variables by the product of the repeating variables, each
raised to an exponent that will make the combination
dimensionless
(6) Repeat step 5 for each of the remaining nonrepeating
variables
(7) Check all the resulting pi terms to make sure they are
dimensionless
(8) Express the final form as a relationship among the pi
terms and think about what it means.
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Determination of Pi Terms
(cont.)
Table 1 : Dimensions of
Fluid Mechanics
Properties
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Example 1
Assume that the power, P, required to drive a fan is a function of the
fan diameter, D, the fluid density, µ, the rotational speed, e, and
the flowrate, Q. Use D, e and µ as repeating variables to determine
a suitable set of pi terms.
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Example 2
When a fluid flows slowly past a vertical plate of height h and width b,
pressure develops on the face of the plate. Assume that the
pressure, p, at the midpoint of the plate is a function of plate
height and width, the approach velocity, V and the fluid viscosity,
µ. Make use of dimensional analysis to determine how the
pressure, p, will change when the fluid velocity, V, is doubled.
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Example 3
The pressure drop per unit length, Ap
l
, for flow of blood through a
horizontal small-diameter tube is a function of the volume rate of
flow, Q, the diameter, D, and the blood viscosity, µ. For a series of
tests in which D = 2 mm and µ =0.004 N-s/m
2
, the following data
were obtained, where the Ap listed was measured over the length,
l = 300 mm. Perform a dimensional analysis for this problem, and
make use of the data given to determine a general relationship
between Ap
l
and Q (one that is valid for other values of D, l and µ)
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Some comments about
dimensional analysis
There are also other methods in
dimensional analysis but the method
of repeating variables is the easiest.
There is not a unique set of pi terms
which arises from a dimensional
analysis. However, the required
number of pi terms is fixed.
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Common Dimensionless
Groups in Fluid Mechanics
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Common Dimensionless
Groups in Fluid Mechanics
(cont.)
Re no. can only be neglected in flow regions
away from high-velocity gradients, e.g. away from
the solid surface, jets, or wakes.
Eu no. is only important when the pressure drops
low enough to cause vapor formation (cavitation)
in a liquid.
Fr no. is totally unimportant if there is no free
surface.
We no. is important only if it is of order of unity or
less, which typically occurs when the surface
curvature is comparable in size to the liquid
depth, e.g. in droplets, capillary flows, ripple
waves, and very small hydraulic models.
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Modeling and Similitude
A model is a representation of a physical
system that may be used to predict the
behavior of the system in some desired
respect.
The physical system for which the
predictions are to be made is called the
prototype.
Usually a model is smaller than the
prototype and therefore, easier to handle
in the lab.
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Modeling and Similitude
(cont.)
Model Design Conditions (or Similarity
Requirements or Modeling Laws)
To achieve similarity between model and
prototype behavior, all the corresponding
pi terms must be equated between model
and prototype
Geometric Similarity
Dynamic Similarity
Kinematic Similarity
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Modeling and Similitude
(cont.)
Model Design Conditions (or
Similarity Requirements or Modeling
Laws) (cont.)
( )


3p 3m
2p 2m
3m 2m 1m
, ,
H H
H H
H H | H
=
=
=
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Modeling and Similitude
(cont.)
Geometric Similarity
A model and prototype are geometrically
similar if an only if all body dimensions in
all three coordinates have the same linear-
scale ratio. All angles are preserved in
geometric similarity. All flow directions
are preserved. The orientations of model
and prototype w.r.t. the surroundings
must be identical.
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Modeling and Similitude
(cont.)
Kinematic Similarity
Velocities are related to the full scale
by a constant scale factor. They also
have the same directions as in the
full scale.
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Modeling and Similitude
(cont.)
Dynamic Similarity
Forces are related to full scale by a
constant factor. Also requires
geometric and kinematic similarity.
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Example 4
The drag on a 2-m-diameter satellite dish due to an 80 km/hr wind is
to be determined through a wind tunnel test using a geometrically
similar 0.4-m-diameter model dish. Assume standard air for both
model and prototype.
(a) At what air speed should the model test be run?
(b) With all similarity conditions satisfied, the measured drag on
the model was determined to be 170 N. What is the predicted drag
on the prototype dish?
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Modeling and Similitude
(cont.)
Distorted Models
Models for which one or more of the similarity requirements
are not satisfied are called distorted models.
Distorted models are rather commonplace, and they can
arise for a variety of reasons, i.e. perhaps a suitable fluid
cannot be found for the model
Distorted models can be successfully used but the
interpretation of the results obtained with this type of model
is obviously more difficult than the interpretation of results
obtained with true models for which all the requirements
are met.
Models involving high-speed flows are often distorted w.r.t
Re # similarity but Ma # similarity is maintained.

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