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Flow Similarity

1. Consider two different flow fields over two different bodies. By definition,
different flows are dynamically similar if: -
(a) The streamline patterns are geometrically similar.
(b) The distributions of V/Vώ , p/pώ , T/Tώ , etc., throughout the flow
field are the same when plotted against common non-dimensional
(c) The force coefficients are the same.

2. The criteria for two flows to be similar are:

(a) The bodies and any other solid boundaries are geometrically similar for
both flows.
(b) The similarity parameters are the same for both flows.

3. Re and Mώ are two parameters, which are by far the dominant similarity
parameters. If two or more flows are similar, then the force coefficients CL, CD, etc., are
the same.

Types of Flow

4. The types of flow are as mentioned below: -

(a) Continuum Vs Free Molecule Flow
(b) Inviscid Vs Viscous Flow
(c) Incompressible Vs Compressible Flow: -
Mach Number Regimes
(i) Subsonic Flow M<0.8
(ii) Transonic Flow 0.8<M<1
(iii) Transonic Flow 1<M<1.2
(iv) Supersonic Flow M>1.2
(v) Hypersonic Flow M>5.
(d) Viscous Flow: Laminar Vs Turbulent Flow

5. Continuum Vs Free Molecule Flow

(a) The mean distance that a molecule travels between collision with neighboring
molecules is defined as Mean free path.

(b) If mean free path is orders of magnitude smaller than the size of body, then
flow appears to the body as continuous substance. Molecules impact the body
surface so frequently that the body cannot distinguish the individual molecular
collisions and that surface feels the fluid as a continuous medium. Such flow
is called Continuum flow.
(c) If (a) is on the same order as the body scale, body surface can feel distinctly
each molecular impact. Such flow called Free molecular flow.

(d) Space shuttles encounter free molecular flow at the extreme outer edge of the
atmosphere. Where the air density is too low that becomes on the order of the
shuttle size.

6. Incompressible Vs Compressible Flow

(a) Flow in which the density r is constant is called incompressible.
(b) Flow where the density is variable is called compressible.
(c) Generally low velocity (M<0.3) flows are incompressible and high velocity
flows are compressible.
(d) Incompressible flow data can be used for compressible flow after applying a
correction factor. Correction factor most widely used is known as Prandtl-
Glauert compressibility correction
(e) It is limited to thin airfoil at small angle of attack, up to Mach no = 0.7

7. Viscous flow
(a) All real flows, which exhibit the effect of transport phenomena are called
viscous flow.
(b) Velocity and temperature of the fluid near to the solid body is changing.
(c) This is called no slip condition.
(d) Flow adjacent to the body surface is considered to be viscous. This region is
called boundary layer. Beyond the boundary layer flow is inviscid.

(e) Boundary Layer. Frictional shear stress exists at any point in a flow
where there is a velocity gradient across streamlines. For most problems in
aerodynamics, the local shear stress has a meaningful effect on the flow only
where the velocity gradients are substantial. For the vast region of the flow field
away from the body, the velocity gradients are relatively small and friction plays
virtually no role. For the thin region of the flow adjacent to the surface, however
the velocity gradients are large and friction plays a defining role. Prandtl’s
concept of boundary layer recognizes these two regions of flow. Thus theoretical
analysis of most aerodynamic flows have treated the region away from the body
as an inviscid flow (i.e., no dissipative effects due to friction, thermal conduction,
or mass diffusion) and the thin region immediately adjacent to the body surface as
a viscous flow where these dissipative effects are included. The thin viscous
region adjacent to the body is called the boundary layer. This layer is the source
of friction drag on an aerodynamic body. Also the phenomena of flow separation
is associated with the presence of boundary layer. If the airfoil is inclined to a
high incidence angle to the flow (high angle of attack), then the boundary layer
will tend to separate from the top surface, and a large wake is formed
downstream. Flow separation dramatically changes the pressure distribution over
the surface resulting in a large increase in drag called pressure drag.
8. Inviscid Flow:
(a) Flow that is assumed to involve no friction, thermal conduction or diffusion
(no transport phenomena).
(b) Reynolds number is very high.
(c) Inviscid flows do not exist in nature.
(d) Many practical aerodynamic flows can be assumed as inviscid.
(e) Velocity and temperature of the fluid near to the solid body is not affected by
the presence of the wall.
(f) This is called slip condition.

9. Viscous Flow: Laminar Vs Turbulent Flow

(a) If the path lines of various fluid elements are smooth and regular, the flow is
called as laminar flow.
(b) If the motion of fluid element is very irregular and tortuous, the flow is called
turbulent flow.
(c) The average flow velocity near a solid surface is larger for a turbulent flow in
comparison with laminar flow.
(d) A turbulent flow does not separate from the surface as rapidly as laminar flow
because energy of the fluid element close to the surface is larger.

Aerodynamic Tools

9. For the solutions of practical aerodynamic problems the following aerodynamic

tools/steps are used: -
(a) Basic Flow Equations containing the fundamental physics of flows.
(i) Continuity Equation
(ii) Momentum Equation
(iii) Energy Equation
(b) Useful Concepts for the Implementation of the Basic Flow Equations: -
(i) Substantial Derivative
(ii) Streamline
(iii) Vorticity
(iv) Circulation
(v) Stream function
(vi) Velocity Potential.


10. Finite Control Volume
(c) Fixed in space
(d) Moving with the fluid
Infinitesimal Fluid Element
(e) Fixed in space
(f) Moving with the fluid

11. Mass conservation equation (continuity equation)

(a) Finite CV fixed in space
(b) Net mass flow out of control volume through surface S (B)= time rate of
decrease of mass inside control volume V
(c) Physical principle : Mass can neither be created nor destroyed.
(d) Mathematically partial differential forms of continuity equation are as
follows: -
(i) Conservation form: Governing flow equations that are directly
obtained from the flow model which is fixed in space.
 .  V   0
(ii) Non-conservation form : Governing flow equations that are
directly obtained from a flow model which is moving with the flow.

12. Momentum Equation

(a) Body force
(b) Pressure force
(c) F=body forces +Pressure forces +viscous forces
(d) G= Net flow of momentum out of CV across surface S
(e) H=Time rate of change of momentum due to unsteady fluctuations of flow
properties inside V.
(f) G+H=F
(g) Physical principle : Force = time rate of change of momentum.
(i) Conservation Form

x-component, y-component and z-component are as follows: -

  u  p   
 .   uV     xx  yx  zx   f x
t x x y z
  v  p   
 .   vV     xy  yy  zy   f y
t y x y z
   w p   
 .   wV     xz  yz  zz   f z
t z x y z
Non-conservation Form
x-component, y-component and z-component are as follows: -
Du p   
    xx  yx  zx   f x
Dt x x y z
Dv p   
    xy  yy  zy   f y
Dt y x y z
Dw p   
    xz  yz  zz   f z
Dt z x y z

13. Energy Equation

(a) Physical principle : Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. it can only
change in form.
B1= rate of heat added to fluid inside CV from surroundings.
(c) B2=rate of work done on fluid inside CV.
(d) B3=rate of change of energy of fluid as it flows through CV.
(e) B1+B2=B3

(i) Conservation Form :

   V   2
  V2     T 
   e    .    e  V    q&  k 
t   2     2   x  x 
  T    T    up    vp    wp 
  k   k   
y  y  z  z  x y z
  u xx    u yx    u zx    u xy    u yy 
    
x y z x y
  u zy    u xz    u yz    u zz 
      f .V
z x y z
Nonconservation Form
D V2    T    T 
  e     q&  k   k 
Dt  2  x  x  y  y 
  T    up    vp    wp    u xx 
  k    
z  z  x y z x
  u yx    u zx    u xy    u yy    u zy 
    
y z x y z
  u xz    u yz    u zz 
     f .V
x y z

14. The system contains five equations in terms of six unknown flow-field variables r,
p, u, v, w, e.
(a) In aerodynamics it is generally reasonable to assume the gas is a
perfect gas. For the perfect gas, the equation of state is p   RT .This provides a
sixth equation, but it also introduces a seventh unknown, namely temperature, T.

(b) A seventh equation to close the entire system must be a

thermodynamic relation between state variables. For example, e  e(T , p ) . For a
calorically perfect gas, this relation would be e=cvT

15. Gradient of a Scalar Field. The gradient of p, del p at a given point in space is
defined as a vector such that: -
(a) Its magnitude is the maximum rate of change of p per unit length of the
co-ordinate space at the given point.
(b) Its direction is that of the maximum rate of change of p at the given point.
(c) A line drawn in the coordinate space along which del p is tangent at every
point is defined as a gradient line. The gradient line and isoline through
any given point in the coordinate space are perpendicular.
(d) The rate of change of p per unit length is called the directional directive
dp ^
 p. n
p p p
p  i  j k
x y z

16. Divergence of a vector field. The time rate of change of the volume of a moving
fluid element of fixed mass, per unit volume of that element is equal to divergence of V
denoted del .V.
V  V ( x, y, z )  Vx i  Vy j  Vz k
ur V V V
.V  x  y  z
x y z
Physical Meaning
(a) Consider an infinitesimal element of the surface dS moving at the local
velocity V. The change in volume of the contol volume delta V die to just the
movement of dS over the time increment delta t is from figure equal to the
volume of the long thin cylinder with base area dS and altitude ( t).n i.e.,
 ^
 ur uur
V =  (Vt ). n  dS  V t.dS
 
(b) Over the time increment delta t, the total change in volume the total
ur surface
uur as limit dS tends to zero is the surface integral
 (V t ).dS

(c) If this integral is divided by delta t, the result is physically the time rate of
change of the control volume denoted DV/Dt i.e.,
DV 1  ^
 ur uur
=   (Vt ). n  dS   V .dS
Dt t S   S

Applying divergence theorem gives

DV ur uur
  (.V )dS
Dt V

(d) Now let us imagine that control volume is shrunk to a very small volume
 V . Then
D( V) ur uuu
  (.V )dV
Dt V

(e) Assume that  V is small enough such that del dot V is essentially same
throughout  V . Then
D( V) ur uuur ur 1 D( V)
 (.V ) V ; or  .V  uuu r.
Dt  V Dt
i.e., the time rate of change of volume per unit volume.
Angular Velocity, Vorticity and Strain

17. Angular Velocity. Consider an infinitesimal fluid element moving in a flow

field. As it translates along a streamline, it may also rotate, and in addition, its shape may
become distorted. The amount of rotation and distortion depends on the velocity field.
(a) Consider a two-dimensional flow in the xy-plane and an infinitesimal fluid
element in this flow.
(b) Assume that at a time t the shape of the fluid element is rectangular as shown
in figure below (towards left). Assume that the fluid element is moving
upward and to the right; its position and shape at time t + delta t are shown at
(c) Note that during time delta t1, sides AB and AC have rotated through the
angular displacements –Δθ1 and Δθ2 respectively.
(d) Angular velocities of lines AB and AC are given by

dθ1 θ u
 lim 1  
dt ∆t →0 t y

dθ 2 ∆θ ∂v
= lim 2 =
dt ∆t →0 ∆t ∂x

i. •

1  dθ dθ  1  ∂v ∂u 
ω z =  1 + 2  =  − 
2  dt dt  2  ∂x ∂y 
ii. •
iii. •
iv. •Angular velocity of fluid element in z direction

1  ∂w ∂v   ∂u ∂w   ∂v ∂u  
ω=  − i +  −  j +  − k 
2  ∂y ∂z   ∂z ∂x   ∂x ∂y  
v. •
vi. •Resulting angular velocity of fluid element in 3D space

14. Vorticity(x)

 ∂w ∂v   ∂u ∂w   ∂v ∂u 
ξ =  − i +  −  j +  − k
 ∂y ∂z   ∂z ∂x   ∂x ∂y 
(e) By definition, the angular velocity of the fluid element as seen in the xy plane
is the average of angular velocities of lines AB and AC. If ωz denotes the
angular velocity
1  dθ 1 dθ 2  1  dv du 
ωz =  + =  − 
2  dt dt  2  dx dy 
(f) Now considering the motion of the fluid element in three dimensional space,
ωx and ωy can also be found as
1  dw dv 
ωx =  − 
2  dy dz 
1  du dw 
ωy =  − 
2  dz dx 
(g) The resulting angular velocity of the fluid element in 3-D space
ω = ωxi + ω y j + ωz k
1  dw dv   du dw   dv du  
⇒ ω = ωz =  − i +  −  j + − k
2  dy dz   dz dx   dx dy  
This equation expresses angular velocity in terms of velocity field derivatives.

18. Vorticity. The angular velocity of a fluid element plays an important role in
theoretical aerodynamics. However the expression 2ω appears frequently, and therefore
we define vorticity which is simply twice the angular velocity i.e.,
Vorticity = ξ = 2ω
(a) From the equation for angular velocity, since u, v, and w denote the x, y,
and z components ur of velocity, respectively we have
ξ = ∇ ×V
(b) In a velocity field, the curl of the velocity is equal to the vorticity which leads
to two important definitions:
ur -
(i) If ξ = ∇ × V is not equal to zero at every point in a flow, the flow
is called rotational. This implies that the fluid elements have a finite
angular velocity. ur
(ii) If ξ = ∇ × V is equal to zero at every point in a flow, the flow is
called irrotational. This implies that the fluid elements have no angular
velocity; rather, their motion through space is a pure translation.

(c) If the flow is two-dimensional (say, in the xy plane) and the flow is
irrotational, then
 dv du  
⇒ ξ = ξ z =  −   = 0
 dx dy  
19. Strain. Considering the fluid element in figure again, let the angle between sides
AB and AC be denoted by κ. As the fluid element moves through the flow field, κ will
change. In figure at time t, κ is initially 90 degrees. At time t+Δt, κ has changed by the
amount Δκ, where
∆k = −∆θ 2 − (−∆θ1 )
(a) By definition, the strain of the fluid element as seen in the xy plane is the
change in κ, where positive strain corresponds to a decreasing κ. Hence the above
equation becomes
Strain = −∆k = ∆θ 2 − ∆θ1
(b) In viscous flows the time rate of strain is an important quantity. It is
denoted and given as follows: -
 dv du 
⇒ ε xy =  + 
 dx dy 
 dw dv 
⇒ ε yz =  + 
 dy dz 
 du dw 
⇒ ε zx =  + 
 dz dx 

20. It may be noted that angular velocity (hence, vorticity) and time rate of strain
depend solely on the velocity derivatives of the flow field. These derivatives can be
displayed in a matrix as follows: -
 ∂u ∂u ∂u 
 
 ∂x ∂y ∂z 
 ∂v ∂v ∂v 
 
 ∂x ∂y ∂z 
 ∂w ∂w ∂w 
 
 ∂x ∂y ∂z 
The diagonal terms denote dilatation since sum of diagonal terms is simply equal to del
dot V. The off-diagonal terms are associated with rotation and strain of a fluid element.


21. Circulation is a fundamental tool for the calculation of aerodynamic lift. Consider
a closed curve C in a flow field. Let V and dS be the velocity and directed line segment,
respectively, at u
uur on C. The circulation denoted by Γ, is defined as
Γ ≡ −Ñ V .dS

(a) The circulation is simply the negative of the line integral of velocity
around a closed curve in the flow. It is kinematic property depending only
on the velocity field and the choice of the curve C.
(b) Circulation is also related to vorticity as follows. Assume that the surface
is in a flow field and the velocity at point P is V, where P is any point on
the surfacer uur(including any
uu ur point
uur on curve C). From Stokes’ theorem,
  Ñ
 V .dS   (  V ).ndS

(c) Thus if the flow is irrotational everywhere within the contour of

integration, then circulation is also zero.
(d) In the limit as
ur C ubecomes
ur infinitesimally small, the above equation yields
d   (  V ).ndS
ur d
 (  V ).n  uur
where dS is the infinitesimal area enclosed by the infinitesimal curve C.
Thus as a point P in a flow, the component of vorticity normal to dS is
equal to the negative of the “circulation per unit area”, where the
circulation is taken around the boundary of dS.