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is shown to be useful in treating fluid flow through conduits. 1. the drag coefficient CD. The drag coefficient CD is defined as the ratio of total drag to the same product of the velocity head and density. 1980). Figure 1. it is necessary to specify the size and geometric form of the body and its orientation with respect to the direction of flow of the fluid. An analogous factor. Flow past immersed sphere. as shown in Fig. 1985). The Reynolds number for a particle in a fluid is defined as (2) where D0 is the characteristic length. (π/4)Dp2 for a sphere. the drag coefficient of a smooth solid in an incompressible fluid depends upon a Reynolds number and the necessary shape factors. and other important dimensions are given as ratios to the chosen one. Consider a smooth sphere immersed in a flowing fluid and at a distance from the solid boundary of the stream sufficient for the approaching stream to be in potential flow. From dimensional analysis. AP is the projected area of the solid normal to the flow. One major dimension is chosen as the characteristic length. defined as the ratio of the shear stress to the product of the velocity head and density. or (1) where FD is the total drag (force acting on the solid). and uo is the velocity of approaching stream (assumed constant over the projected area). For particles having shapes other than spherical. is used for immersed solids. This equation is important wherever momentum transfer at a fluid-flow boundary must be examined. ρ is the density of the stream. it may be applied to the design of particle-separation equipment as well as to that of piping systems (Foust et al. Such ratios are called shape factors (McCabe et al. 2 w ’ a s e l k o t S .Drag Coefficient The friction factor fF. Thus.

p.Drag coefficients for compressible fluids increase with increase in the Mach number when the latter becomes more than about 0. p for spheres. p at different Reynolds numbers are the results of the interplay of the various factors that control form drag and wall drag. the curves that show these relationships are valid only for a maintained orientation for which the axis of the cylinder and the face of the disk are perpendicular to the direction of flow (McCabe et al. disks. was an Irish-born mathematician who spent much of his life working with fluid properties. 1985). it will twist and turn as it moves freely through the fluid. If. Coefficients in supersonic flow are generally greater than in subsonic flow. Stokes’ Law George Gabriel Stokes. and cylinders. it is not surprising that the variation of CD with NRe. 3 w ’ a s e l k o t S . From the complex nature of drag. NRe. a disk or cylinder is moving by gravity or centrifugal force through a quiescent fluid. This directed to the development of Stokes' Law in the 1840s. This equation shows the force needed to move a small sphere through a continuous. for example. However. famous for his work describing the motion of a sphere through viscous fluids. quiescent fluid at a certain velocity. long cylinders. Their effects can be followed by discussing the case of the sphere. Fig. Figure 2. and disks.6 (McCabe et al. 2 shows the relationship of CD and NRe. It is based primarily on the radius of the sphere and the viscosity of the fluid. The variations in slope of the curves of CD vs. p is more complicated than that of fF with NRe. Drag coefficients for spheres. 1985).

as shown by the lefthand portion of the graph of Fig. showing separation and wake formation: (a) laminar flow in boundary layer. Equations (3) and (4) may be used with small error for all Reynolds number less than 1. Practically. or for the motion of larger particles through highly viscous liquids. the drag force for a sphere conforms to a theoretical equation called Stokes’ law. B: stagnation point. The wall shear is the result of the viscous forces only. the sphere moves through the fluid by deforming it. this flow treated by the law is valuable for calculating the resistance of small particles.For low Reynolds numbers. Flow past single sphere. written as (3) The drag coefficient predicted by Stokes’ law is (4) In theory. (b) turbulent flow in boundary layer. 4 w ’ a s e l k o t S . The motion of the sphere affects the fluid at considerable sentences from the body. and inertial forces are negligible. Stokes’ law must be corrected for the wall effect. At low velocities at which the law is valid. Referred as creeping flow. C: separation point. and if there is a solid within 20 or 30 diameters of the sphere. moving through gases or liquids of low viscosity. 2. Stokes’ law is valid only when NRe. such as dusts or fogs. Figure 3. p is considerably less than unity.

separation occurs at a point just forward of the equatorial plane. The curve for spheres shown in Fig. is 2 per cent.500. are characterized by a large friction loss. at Reynolds number above about 2. 3b. is large. as shown in Fig. In a wake.000.000.45 to 0. the critical Reynolds number is about 140. because once the separation occurs at the edge of the disk.000. When turbulence occurs in the latter. and hence the total drag. Bodies which show this type of behaviour are called bluffed bodies. transition to turbulence takes place. NRe for an infinitely long cylinder normal to the flow is much like that of a sphere. the angular velocity of the vortices (thus the kinetic energy of rotation). backwater zones of strongly decelerated fluid. The drag coefficients for irregularly shaped particles such as coal or sand appear to be about the same as for spheres of the same nominal size at Reynolds numbers less than 50. is large. originating at the apex point B in Fig. such as catalyst pellets. One method of measuring the scale of turbulence is to determine the critical Reynolds number and use a known correlation between the two quantities.000 is a result of the shift in separation point when the boundary layer attached to the sphere becomes turbulent. NRe levels out at NRe ≈ 100. The pressure drag. As the Reynolds number is increased. the separation point moves towards the rear of the body and the wake shrinks. The curve of CD vs. well beyond the range of Stokes’ law. forming in the downstream fluid a series of moving vortices known as a ‘vortex street. 3.As the Reynolds number is increased to 10 or above. 1985). and the values of CD are 2 to 3 times those for spheres in the range NRe = 500 . However the curve of CD vs. covering the entire rear hemisphere. developing a large form drag. At moderate Reynolds number. and the remarkable drop in drag coefficient from 0. the drag coefficient is nearly constant. but at low Reynolds number. first in the free boundary layer and then in the boundary layer still attached to the front hemisphere of the sphere. At Reynolds number above 300.10 at a Reynolds number of about 250. For example. For a disk the drag coefficient CD is approximately unity at Reynolds numbers above 2. and the component of the pressure vector acts in the direction of flow. defined as . as shown in Fig. Both friction and drag decrease. For short cylinders. and a wake. flowing freely around the wake after separation. the separated steam does not return to the back of the disk and the wake does not shrink when the boundary layer becomes turbulent. Wakes. the drag coefficient falls between the values for spheres and long cylinders and varies inversely with the Reynolds number at very low Reynolds numbers. 2. The drag coefficient is nearly constant. vortices are no longer shed from the wake. for spheres and cylinders it increases slightly with the Reynolds number. By Bernoulli principle. as shown in Fig. Disks do not show the drop in drag coefficient at a critical Reynolds number. much greater than if Stokes’ law still applied. 3a. The boundary layer grows and separates. the critical Reynolds number is sensitive to the scale of turbulence and becomes smaller as the scale increases. if the scale of turbulence. the vortices disengage from the wake in a regular fashion. 2 applies only when the fluid approaching the sphere is non-turbulent or when the sphere is moving through a stationary fluid. CD does not vary inversely with NRe because of the two-dimensional character of the flow around the cylinder. a stable boundary forms. a suction develops in the wake. The Reynolds number at which the attached boundary layer becomes turbulent is called the critical Reynolds number for drag.000 (McCabe et al. the pressure in the wake is less than that in the separated boundary layer. 5 w ’ a s e l k o t S .3. is formed.’ However. If the approaching fluid is turbulent.

among other factors. acting downwards. respectively. Settling particles may undergo fluctuating motions owing to vortex shedding. When the velocity of a falling body increases and continues to increase until the accelerating and resisting forces are balanced. the velocity of that particle remains constant during the remainder time of fall (Foust et al. equal to weight of the displaced liquid. Variations in mean velocity are usually less than 10 per cent. acting upwards (opposing motion of the body). Forces actiong on a body during free-fall. and Upthrust or buoyant force FT of liquids. Viscous drag FV. Oscillation is enhanced with increasing separation between the mass and geometric centers of the particle.Terminal Settling Velocity Consider a small spherical body. The resisting force due to fluid friction acting on a sphere when the relative motion produces laminar flow has been shown using Stokes law with this new equation (6) 6 w ’ a s e l k o t S . The drag force on a particle fixed in space with fluid moving is somewhat lower than the drag force on a particle freely settling in a stationary fluid at the same relative velocity. That constant velocity is the terminal velocity. The various forces acting on the body are: Weight of the body. Figure 4. falling freely due to gravity in a viscous medium. or (5) where ut is the terminal velocity and ρs and ρ are the solid and liquid densities. 1980). Terminal velocity independent of the drag coefficient can also be calculated in laminar flow.

Applications Stokes’ law has many applications in science. The time of fall between two points is measured. A ball of known diameter falls through a fluid of unknown viscosity in a tube. and by Equation (6). The falling-ball viscometer. Stokes' law is the basis of the falling-ball viscometer. If correctly selected. the same theory can be used to explain why small water droplets (or ice crystals) can remain suspended in air (as clouds) until they grow to a critical size and start falling as rain (or snow and hail). It also explains why the speed of a raindrop is less than a freely falling body with constant velocity. Figure 5. which is the drag coefficient. heavier objects fall faster. but the problem is the factor 6ð. it reaches terminal velocity.This is another statement of the Stokes’ law. to slow down. u(t) asymptotically approaches the terminal velocity ut = mg/b. This is the coefficient used in equation (4). in which the fluid is stationary in a vertical glass tube. and is applicable to the fall of spherical particles in laminar flow. the viscosity can be determined. For a certain b. A factor 2ð is caused by a pressure effect and a factor 4ð by friction. When an object falls from rest. its velocity u(t) is (7) where b. In air. The same law helps a man coming down with the help of a parachute. Stokes’ law assumes a low velocity of a small falling particle. The derivation of b is easy for the parameters r and ç. such as in earth science where measurement of the setting time gives the radius of soil particles. which can be measured by the time it takes to pass two marks on the tube. A sphere of known size and density is allowed to descend through the liquid. from the height of clouds. Now the drag. it is used for calculating viscosity using a falling-ball viscometer. Electronic sensing 7 w ’ a s e l k o t S . For example. Stokes drag has a coefficient b equal to b = 6ðrç.

The school experiment uses glycerine as the fluid. on the bottom of a hematocrit tube are the red cells. the erythrocytes. they are less dense and especially less smooth. the size and density of the sphere. Figure 6. In biochemistry. In this way proteins and even smaller particles can be harvested. The centrifuge is used to shorten substantially the setting time. The relative height of the band (cylinder) with the red cells is the hematocrit. which set faster. which slows their speed of setting. In the middle are the white cells. since they are large and have the highest density. Several school experiments often involve varying the temperature and/or concentration of the substances used in order to demonstrate the effects this has on the viscosity. and polymer liquids such as solutions. the process still behaves rather well according to Stokes’ law. However. the same equations hold. Red cells can clotter to money rolls. Another important application is the process of centrifugation of a biochemical sample. Stokes' law can be used to calculate the viscosity of the fluid. After setting. Diagram of a hematocrit tube.can be used for opaque fluids. and hardly visible. or (8) where f is the number of rotations/s and R the radius of the centrifuge (the distance of the bottom of the tube to the center). In medicine. a can easily reach 104 g and in physics even 106 g. but the force of gravity g should be replaced by the centrifugal acceleration a. Knowing the terminal velocity. A series of steel ball bearings of different diameters are normally used in the classic experiment to improve the accuracy of the calculation. Although the red cells are not spherical and the medium is not large at all (a narrow hematocrit microtube). the thrombocytes. 8 w ’ a s e l k o t S . Industrial methods include many different oils. such as radio nucleotides (enrichment of certain isotopes of uranium in an ultracentrifuge). and the technique is used industrially to check the viscosity of fluids used in processes. and the density of the liquid. With centrifugation. a well-known application is the precipitation of blood cells. the leucocytes despite their often larger volume. is a thin band of the much smaller platelets. On top.

just taking a linear interpolation.Sample Problems 1. density of red cells (1120 kg/m3) and plasma (1000 (kg/m3). weighing 0. Actually. Consider a small sphere with radius r = 1 μm moving through water at a velocity u of 10 µm/s.17 Pa·s.05 grams.95 Pa·sec at 25oC. 3. This is about the drag force that a bacterium experiences as it swims through water. Using Equation (6) gives 9 w ’ a s e l k o t S . The viscosity of glycerin is temperature dependent.022 m/s. assume viscosity to be at 1. Find the drag force.5 μm. 2. being 1. find the drag force. Solution: Using Equation (6) gives a radius equal to 3.003 m/hour = 0. Solution: At 23oC. was dropped through glycerine at 23oC at a speed of 0.45 L/L). the red cell is disk-shaped with a radius of about 3.49 Pa·s at 20oC and 0. settling velocity (0. Solution: Using Equation (6) gives a drag force of 0.83∙10-6 m/s).2 pN. A ball of radius 1. Using 10-3 as the dynamic viscosity of water in SI units.2mm.75 μm and a thickness of 2 μm. Calculate the equivalent radius of a red blood cell given the following parameters: hematocrit (assume 0.

nl/medfysica/ doc/StokesLawHematocrit..).). 2012 from http:// galileo.wikipedia. (2006)..edu/faculty/ulnessd/legacy/ fall1998/sonja/stokes. 2012 from http://onderwijs1. L. d. (1985). d. A. L. W.. Green.htm (n. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons.. L. (n. Retrieved March 17. C. W.com/content/physics/physics -iii/solids-and-fluids/stokes-law.. Retrieved March 14.php (n. S.). New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies. a.).).). (n.mf1i. (1998) Stokes’ Law.. Dropping the Ball (Slowly).References (n. R. Fowler.). Inc. Principles of Unit Operations (2nd ed.amc. Retrieved March 14. Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering (4th ed. Wenzel.. Inc. and Andersen. 2012 from http://www. C.phys. d.virginia. 10 w ’ a s e l k o t S . & Maloney.).htm McCabe. Stokes’ Law. O.cord. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies. J. P. J. & Harriott.edu/classes/152.. (1997).a. (1980). (n. Maus. Smith. H. a. Clump. D. a. B.). W. Retrieved March 17. Perry. Retrieved March 17. M. L.htm Foust. Stokes’ Law. Stokes’ law and hematocrit.tutorvista.spring02/Stokes_Law. 2012 from http://www. 2012 from http://en.). A.org/wiki/Stokes'_law (n. Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook (7th ed.

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UsefulNot usefulWritten report about Stokes' Law.

Written report about Stokes' Law.

- Fundamentals of Gas Particle Flowby G Rudinger
- Principles of Zero Aerodynamic Dragby Othman Ahmad
- Boundary Layer and Flow Control: Its Principles and Applicationby Elsevier Science
- Boundary Layer Flow over Elastic Surfaces: Compliant Surfaces and Combined Methods for Marine Vessel Drag Reductionby Viktor V Babenko

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