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# Laminar Flow over a ﬂat Plate – The Blasius Solution

Consider the laminar ﬂow of an incompressible Newtonian ﬂuid over a ﬂat plate. Since the ﬂow is laminar, it is reasonable to seek a steady solution to the governing equations, and since the plate is ﬂat, the pressure gradient will be zero. The resulting governing equations are, ∂u ∂v + =0 ∂x ∂y u u ∂u ∂2u ∂u +v =ν 2 ∂x ∂y ∂y (1) (2)

∂T ∂T ∂2T +v =α 2 (3) ∂x ∂y ∂y where we have also neglected viscous dissipation. In order to simplify the set of governing equations, we introduce a stream function ∂ψ u≡ (4) ∂y v≡− Subsitituting 4 and 5 into 1, ∂2ψ ∂2ψ − ≡0 (6) ∂xy ∂xy we see that conservation of mass is identically satisﬁed if we use a stream function to deﬁne our velocity components. The stream function is a clever device which implicity enforces mass conservation (continuity). It is also a very convenient way to visualize ﬂuid ﬂows. For these reasons, the stream function is frequently employed in two dimensional ﬂuid mechanics problems. Next, we want to simplify the momentum equation, and we do this by postulating that there exists some scaling parameter which will reduce all of the local velocity proﬁles to a single curve. If we can ﬁnd such a parameter, our two dimensional problem will become a one dimensional problem and will be much more ammenable to analytic solution. Such a scaling, or similarity parameter has been found, and is given by 1 ∂ψ ∂x (5)

we need to cast our momentum equation. Equation 9 simpliﬁes to u = U∞ Next. We shall convert each term in sequence. Equation 2 in terms of our similarity parameter. u= From Equation 8. ∂η = ∂y Accordingly. η . v = − U∞ νx ∂f U∞ + U∞ ∂x 2 ∂f ∂η ∂f = ∂x ∂η ∂x ∂η ∂x 1 U∞ −3/2 = − y x 2 ν 1 = − η 2x 2 ν f U∞ x (15) (16) νx f (η ) U∞ (13) df dη (12) U∞ νx (11) νx f (η ) U∞ (10) ∂ψ ∂η ∂ψ = ∂y ∂η ∂y (9) (14) (17) (18) . since v=− ψ = U∞ so.U∞ (7) νx Now. consider the v velocity. deﬁne a non-dimensional stream function using our similarity parameter. ∂ψ ∂x This is a little involved to evaluate. η=y f (η ) = ψ U∞ νx/U∞ (8) Next. and then put them together. ψ = U∞ and from the deﬁnition to η .

v= Similarly. Equation 2. f = and f = ∂u ∂y νx 1 U∞ U∞ related to shear stress (27) u U∞ 3 . in simpliﬁed notation. 2f + ff = 0 (26) d3 f d2 f +f 2 =0 3 dη dη (25) where f is out non-dimensional stream function. we ﬁnd a third order ordinary diﬀerential equation in f. 2 Or. for ∂u/∂x. ∂u ∂ 2 f ∂η = U∞ 2 ∂x ∂η ∂x ∂u 1 ∂2f = − U∞ 2 ∂x 2x ∂η and for ∂u/∂y ∂u ∂ 2 f ∂η = U∞ 2 ∂y ∂η ∂y ∂u = U∞ ∂y And ﬁnally. for ∂ 2 u/∂y 2 2 ∂2u U∞ ∂3f = ∂y 2 νx ∂η 3 1 2 νU∞ x η ∂f −f ∂η (19) (20) (21) (22) U∞ ∂ 2 f νx ∂η 2 (23) (24) Substituting each of these terms into the boundary layer momentum equation.Simplifying.

1]). etai = 0. This is easy to do in our original variables. [eta1. the second column is f’ and the third column is f”. look at the data returned by the solver whos eta1 whos y1 Note that the function has returned a vector for η and a matrix with three columns for y1. but the ODE solvers integrate from initial conditions only. 0) = 0 −→ f (0) = df dη =0 η =0 (28) (29) (30) The second tells us that there is mass ﬂow through the plate. The ﬁrst column is f. This is a matlab function that implements the above diﬀerential equation in a form that matlab can use with its ODE solvers.y1] = ode45(’blas’.[etai etaf]. 0) = 0 u(x. We will do this by trial and error. Download the ﬁle blas0. Let’s plot these 4 . u(x. Not only do we have the problem that the location corresponding to η = ∞ is unclear. (f(0) = 0).8. v (x. etaf = 6. f. 0) = 0 v (x. We have two initial conditions. It is a third order diﬀerential equation. we need to impose boundary conditions on it.m from the website. and determine how to satisfy it. and so this corresponds to the stream function being 0 (or another constant for that matter). Let’s try solving the equation with various boundary conditions and ﬁnd the case that works for our physics. and therefor we need three boundary conditions.Boundary Conditions In order to solve this equation. 0) = 0 −→ f (0) = 0 The ﬁnal boundary condition is a little more problematic u(x.(0) = 0) but we need to convert a third boundary condition to an initial condition for f”(0). ∞) = U∞ The ﬁrst condition corresponds easily through Equation to u(x.[0 0 0. ∞) = U∞ −→ f (∞) = df dη =1 η =∞ Let’s explore this boundary condition.

y2] = ode45(’blas’.’f‘‘’) This is better. f‘‘ ’) legend(’f’.3). the boundary layer thickness. Lets increase f”(0) again. [eta2.’r-’) hold on plot(eta2.’f‘’. f’ does not come close 1.y1(:.2).’g-’) plot(eta2. and should go from 0 to 1.1).’b-’) xlabel(’\eta’) ylabel(’f.’f‘‘’) Note that f’ is our non-dimensional velocity proﬁle. f‘. figure plot(eta3. 5.’b-’) xlabel(’\eta’) ylabel(’f.2]).8.y3(:.y2(:. We can now use our deﬁnition of η to determine the edge of the boundary layer setting y=δ .y2(:.y1(:. This is the accepted value for the edge of the boundary layer.y3(:. [eta3.0. f‘‘ ’) legend(’f’. etai = 0.’r-’) hold on plot(eta1.’f‘‘’) This appears to be the correct value – the velocity proﬁle starts at 0 and increases to 1.3). f‘‘ ’) legend(’f’.’f‘’.y3] = ode45(’blas’. etai = 0. It reaches 1 very close to η = 5. figure plot(eta2.332]).’r-’) hold on plot(eta3.y1(:.figure plot(eta1.[etai etaf].’g-’) plot(eta1.2).1).2 and check again.8.’g-’) plot(eta3.[etai etaf]. but still not quite there. Repeat the process trying using f”(0) = 0. etaf = 6.[0 0 0. In the ﬁgure you generated.’b-’) xlabel(’\eta’) ylabel(’f.y2(:. f‘.1). f‘.’f‘’.0 = δ U∞ νx (31) 5 .y3(:.2).[0 0 0.3). etaf = 6.

2 and 3 m.1)). function [u.0m/s.x. v. To look at the velocity proﬁle at x=1m type [u. Note that the comments are helpful.v.x.y) xlabel(’u [m/s]’) ylabel(’y [m]’) 6 . ν = 1.0x δ=√ Rex U∞ x ν Now. x=0.2) . Let us plot the velocity proﬁle at three diﬀerent locations on the plate.25.eta.5e-5).1. from our single solution. v = 1/2 *sqrt(nu*uinf/x)*(eta. y = eta/sqrt(uinf/(nu*x)).3.or.5 × 10−5 m2 /s. y] = blasvel(f. Rex = y= η U∞ νx Where and the velocity is scaled from its deﬁnition.y] = blasvel(y3. 5.12 Incropera and DeWitt % Equation 7.eta are returned by the function blasius % x is the desired x location on the plate % uinf is the free stream velocity % nu is the kinematic viscosity u = f(:. v. we can determine the velocity proﬁle anywhere in a laminar boundary layer simply by scaling this solution.eta.*f(:. but not absolutely necessary. y] = blasvel(f. u = f U∞ Let us consider an airﬂow with U∞ = 3. Save the following in a text ﬁle called blasvel.0. Queen’s University.G. February 2003 % % This function returns the u and v velocity components based on the Blasius solution of % laminar flow over a flat plate with zero pressure gradient % % f. % Equation 7.f(:.nu) %function [u. figure plot(u.uinf.13 Incropera and DeWitt We can now use this function with our solution above.uinf.1.0. We will create a matlab function to convert the Blasius solution to dimensional form.m.2)*uinf. Pharoah.nu) % % J.eta3.

% Compute the velocity profiles at x=2.’Center’) ylabel(’y [m]’).hold on plot([x x].25.02 .’m’) xtemp = 0:.0 plot(x+u/uscale. % Compute the velocity profiles at x=1.title(’Developing Laminar Boundary Layer’) text(1. τwall = µ du dy .eta3. plot(xtemp. [u.[0 max(y)].eta3.hold on plot([x x]. % Compute the velocity profiles at x=0.uinf.x.021.nu).0.uinf. The shear stress is related to the velocity gradient.x.eta.uinf=3. and heat transfer.y] = blasvel(y3.delta) xlim([0 2. y =0 Notice the strong parallel between momentum transport (through shear forces).-’)./sqrt(Rex). x = 0.nu).y.hold on plot([x x].5.y] = blasvel(f.0 m/s.’U_{\infty} = 3.v. Since we need 7 . \nu = 1.’r’) x=1.5 x 10^{-5} m^2/s’.x.nu).Now lets repeat this for the three locations and place them on a single plot in a nice way.’r.v.-’). plot(x+u/uscale.25 figure.0.25+(1/uscale)/2.’k’) text(0.25. Rex = uinf*xtemp/nu.’HorizontalAlignment’.uinf.[.0 plot(x+u/uscale. plot([0.’1 m/s’. which will tell us how much drag there is on the plate.-’).0 uscale = 6. The shear stress is given by Newton’s law of viscosity (for a Newtonian ﬂuid). [u.xlabel(’x [m]’).0.[0 max(y)].’m.[0 max(y)].02]. nu = 1.’g.5e-5.024.’ We can also investigate the shear stress on the plate. which is very clearly related to f” in our Blasius solution.y] = blasvel(y3.v.’g’) x=2.y.’HorizontalAlignment’. [u.0.5]).25 0.1:2. delta = 5*xtemp.y.25+1/uscale].

664Re− x ρµU∞ /x Now. The skin friction coeﬃcient is the non-dimensional wall shear (note the different deﬁnition compared to friction factors). however the ﬂow will become turbulent.332U∞ or 1/2 Cf (x) = 0.332 that will give is related to shear stress. we can use this data to solve the energy equation and solve convective heat transfer over a ﬂat plate. and these relations will no longer hold.to evaluate the velocity gradient at the surface of the plate. 8 . τwall = 0. it is f”(0) = 0. Cf = τwall 2 1/2ρU∞ Cf can calculated by manipulating the non-dimensional variables in the Blasius solution to yield. At some point.