You are on page 1of 4

Fluid Mechanics Essay II




The studies of fluids began many years ago, initially with Archimedes (287-212 BC) who introduced basic fluid statics ideas. The timeline of the study of fluids involve people like Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Daniel Bernoulli, and Leonhard Euler. These eminent figures lead Ludwig Prandtl to give origin to his famous Boundary Layer Theorem in 1904 [3]. Prandtls theory states that, when fluids flow over surfaces, the particles of the fluid near that surface are brought to rest due to its viscosity. Viscosity is defined as the internal property of a fluid that offers resistance to flow [1]. The adjacent layers will reduce in velocity, but to a lower extend. This kind of action creates a layer, known as the boundary layer. Particles beyond this layer are not affected by this phenomenon. The fluid flows velocity increases from zero at the surface (no slip) to its maximum velocity (called the free stream velocity) at the edge of the boundary layer. Similarly in a pipe (fig1.), the boundary layer develops over the internal circumference which acts as the surface. At a certain distance from the entrance, the boundary layers merge and prevent any further change in velocity distribution. This causes the velocity profile to remain constant from there on in the pipe.
Figure 1 Velocity profile in a pipe. F =the flow of the fluid and d the diameter of the pipe.

Pressure drop in fluid flow is to overcome the viscous shear force which depends on the velocity gradient at the surface. This velocity gradient thus exists only in the boundary layer. The boundary layer has a thickness which, According to C. P. Kothandaraman and R. Rudramoorthy, Fluid Mechanics and Machinery: ... increases due to the continuous retardation of flow. This retardation then introduces us to three main concepts: the Laminar and Turbulent boundary layers and the laminar sub-layer (shown on fig2. below) which are to be discussed.

Figure 2 Development of boundary layer on a smooth flat plate

The Laminar boundary layer As explained above, when a fluid flows over a surface, the fluid will move at the velocity of the surface [5]. Thus with a fixed surface, the initial velocity of the fluid when it touched the edge of the surface, will be zero; in other words the fluid is brought to rest. The fluid will then have thin layers occurring near the leading edge and flow in smooth streamlines. This is how a laminar boundary layer if formed. The layers do not mix macroscopically. Here, the Reynolds number (Re) is introduced. The Re is a unitless value that determines the kind of boundary layer or the nature of the flow. The Re value of a laminar boundary is below 2300. The advantage of Laminar Boundary Layer is that, the slower velocities near the surface cause less friction drag. Where the friction drag is

caused by the roughness of the surface of the body on which the fluid is flowing. Due to the roughness, the particles near the surface are retarded thus the velocity of the fluid increases as it travels on the body. The disadvantage of laminar boundary layer is that due to the slow velocity near the surface, the flow will come to a stop sooner resulting in a stall at a lower angle of attack [2]. The Turbulent Boundary Layer After the fluid goes through the laminar boundary layer, it goes through the transition region where the smooth flows starts breaking down and waviness begins to form. At this region the Re value lies between 2300 and 4000. After this region, the velocity of the fluid increases thus causing an increase in the frictional shearing stresses with the walls, this in turn in increases the Re value to above 4000. Thus the fluid is said to have entered the turbulent boundary layer. This layer is thicker than the laminar, with random streamlines. In this boundary layer there is mixing between layers. It is in this layer where the laminar sublayer may be formed. At this boundary layer, due to the high velocities near the surface, more skin friction is created.

Laminar Sublayer In a turbulent flow, a very thin region next to the wall, with a very small thickness (laminar sublayer) is formed. This occurs where turbulent mixing is prevented and movement occurs partly or entirely by viscous diffusion. (fig2) Separation of Boundary Layers The separation of a flow occurs when the direction of the flow velocity near the surface is opposed to the direction of the free stream velocity. Due to the high momentum near the surface of turbulent flow, the turbulent layer is able to resist separation better than laminar layer [2]. Friction and unfavourable pressure gradient causes the layer to slow down, reverse direction and then separate from surface. The oncoming streams flow over/around this barrier causing the separation [1]. Boundary layer separation can be prevented or reduced in several ways, below are five examples how boundary separation is prevented: 1. Streamlining: When a body is shaped in such a way that it decrease the area subjected to flow separation, which causes a decrease in pressure drag. Real life examples are bird wings, fish fins, airplane wings etc. Blowing/Suction: Increase of suction speed reduces Reynolds value and blowing reduces the shear stress and friction drag e.g. Figure 3 vortex Generators and a in turbine blades. "dimpled" golf ball Porous Surface: A perfect example is a golf ball with dimples. Vortex Generators: These are small plates placed at an angle of attach and generate vortices which prevent/delay boundary separation by re-energizing it. Used in plane wings. Slots/Slats: Used in shoulders of airfoils to delay flow separation e.g. in elevators.


3. 4. 5.

References: 1. Engineering Problem Solving: A Classical Perspective, Milton C. Shaw, William Andrew Publishing, copyright 2001. 2. Fluid Mechanics and Machinery, C. P Kothandaraman and R. Rudramoorthy, 2nd edition, copyright 2007, New Age International (P) Ltd Publishers. 3. Ludwig Prandtls Boundary Layer, John D. Anderson Jr, Vol 58 no 12 pp 42-48. 4. retrieved 09/May/2010. 5. ds/BoundaryLayers/BoundaryLayers.htm . retrieved 09/May/2010 6. , retrieved 09/May/2010