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Transport Phenomena - Fluid Mechanics Problem : Newtonian fluid flow in a plane narrow slit Problem.

Consider a fluid (of density ) in incompressible, laminar flow in a plane narrow slit of length L and width W formed by two flat parallel walls that are a distance 2B apart. End effects may be neglected because B << W << L. The fluid flows under the influence of both a pressure difference p and gravity.

Figure. Fluid flow in plane narrow slit. a) Using a differential shell momentum balance, determine expressions for the steadystate shear stress distribution and the velocity profile for a Newtonian fluid (of viscosity ). b) Obtain expressions for the maximum velocity, average velocity and the mass flow rate for slit flow.

Click here for stepwise solution a) Step. Differential equation from shell momentum balance

For a plane narrow slit, the natural choice is rectangular Cartesian coordinates. Since the fluid flow is in the z-direction, vx = 0, vy = 0, and only vz exists. Further, vz is independent of z and it is meaningful to postulate that velocity vz = vz(x) and pressure p = p(z). The only nonvanishing components of the stress tensor are xz = zx, which depend only on x. Consider now a thin rectangular slab (shell) perpendicular to the x-direction extending a distance W in the y-direction and a distance L in the z-direction. A 'rate of z-momentum' balance over this thin shell of thickness x in the fluid is of the form: Rate of z-momentum In Out + Generation = Accumulation

At steady-state, the accumulation term is zero. Momentum can go 'in' and 'out' of the shell by both the convective and molecular mechanisms. Since vz(x) is the same at both ends of the slit, the convective terms cancel out because ( vz vz W x)|z = 0 = ( vz vz W x)|z = L. Only the molecular term (L W xz ) remains to be considered. Generation of zmomentum occurs by the pressure force (p W x) and gravity force ( g W L x). On substituting these contributions into the z-momentum balance, we get (L W xz ) | x (L W xz ) | x+x+ ( p 0 p L ) W x + g W L x = 0 (1)

Dividing the above equation by L W x yields xz| x+x xz| x x = p0 pL + g L L


On taking the limit as x 0, the left-hand side of the above equation is the definition of the derivative. The right-hand side may be compactly and conveniently written by introducing the modified pressure P, which is the sum of the pressure and gravitational terms. The general definition of the modified pressure is P = p + g h , where h is the distance upward (in the direction opposed to gravity) from a reference plane of choice. Since the z-axis points downward in this problem, h = z and therefore P = p g z . Thus, P0 = p0 at z = 0 and PL = pL g L at z = L giving p0 pL + g L = P0 PL P. Thus, equation (2) gives dxz P = dx L


Equation (3) on integration leads to the following expression for the shear stress distribution: xz = P x + C1 L


The constant of integration C1 is determined later using boundary conditions. It is worth noting that equations (3) and (4) apply to both Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids, and provide starting points for many fluid flow problems in rectangular Cartesian coordinates (click here for detailed discussion). Step. Shear stress distribution and velocity profile Substituting Newton's law of viscosity for xz in equation (4) gives dvz P = x + C1 dx L


The above first-order differential equation is simply integrated to obtain the following velocity profile: P 2 C1 vz = x x + C2 (6) 2L

The no-slip boundary conditions at the two fixed walls are BC 1: at x = B, vz = 0 BC 2: at x = B, vz = 0

(7) (8)

Using these, the integration constants may be evaluated as C1 = 0 and C2 = P B2 / (2 L). On substituting C1 = 0 in equation (4), the final expression for the shear stress (or momentum flux) distribution is found to be linear as given by xz = P x L (9)

Further, substitution of the integration constants into equation (6) gives the final expression for the velocity profile as x P B 2 vz = 1 2L B


It is observed that the velocity distribution for laminar, incompressible flow of a Newtonian fluid in a plane narrow slit is parabolic. b) Step. Maximum velocity, average velocity and mass flow rate From the velocity profile, various useful quantities may be derived. (i) The maximum velocity occurs at x = 0 (where dvz/dx = 0). Therefore, vz,max = vz| x = 0 = P B2 2L


(ii) The average velocity is obtained by dividing the volumetric flow rate by the crosssectional area as shown below. B B B vz W dx 1 P B2 2 vz,avg = = = = vz,max v dx (12) 2 B 3 L 3 z B B B W dx

Thus, the ratio of the average velocity to the maximum velocity for Newtonian fluid flow in a narrow slit is 2/3. (iii) The mass rate of flow is obtained by integrating the velocity profile over the cross section of the slit as follows. B w = vz W dx = W (2 B) vz,avg B (13)

Thus, the mass flow rate is the product of the density , the cross-sectional area (2 B W) and the average velocity vz,avg. On substituting vz,avg from equation (12), the final expression for the mass rate of flow is w = 2 P B3 W 3L


The flow rate vs. pressure drop (w vs. P) expression above is the slit analog of the Hagen-Poiseuille equation (originally for circular tubes). It is a result worth noting because it provides the starting point for creeping flow in many systems (e.g., radial flow between two parallel circular disks; and flow between two stationary concentric spheres). Finally, it may be noted that the above analysis is valid when B << W. If the slit thickness B is of the same order of magnitude as the slit width W, then vz = vz (x, y), i.e., vz is not a function of only x. If W = 2B, then a solution can be obtained for flow in a square duct.

Related Problems in Transport Phenomena - Fluid Mechanics : Transport Phenomena - Fluid Mechanics Problem : Power law fluid flow in a plane narrow slit
- Determination of shear stress, velocity profile and mass flow rate for power law fluid rather than Newtonian fluid