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Chapter 7 Dimensional Analysis, Similitude, and Modeling

F I G U R E 7.9 Instrumented, small-waterplane-area, twin hull (SWATH) model suspended from a towing carriage. (Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Navys David W. Taylor Research Center.)

on the ship. Ship models are widely used to study new designs, but the tests require extensive facilities 1see Fig. 7.92. It is clear from this brief discussion of various types of models involving free-surface flows that the design and use of such models requires considerable ingenuity, as well as a good understanding of the physical phenomena involved. This is generally true for most model studies. Modeling is both an art and a science. Motion picture producers make extensive use of model ships, fires, explosions, and the like. It is interesting to attempt to observe the flow differences between these distorted model flows and the real thing.


Similitude Based on Governing Differential Equations

In the preceding sections of this chapter, dimensional analysis has been used to obtain similarity laws. This is a simple, straightforward approach to modeling, which is widely used. The use of dimensional analysis requires only a knowledge of the variables that influence the phenomenon of interest. Although the simplicity of this approach is attractive, it must be recognized that omission of one or more important variables may lead to serious errors in the model design. An alternative approach is available if the equations 1usually differential equations2 governing the phenomenon are known. In this situation similarity laws can be developed from the governing equations, even though it may not be possible to obtain analytic solutions to the equations. To illustrate the procedure, consider the flow of an incompressible Newtonian fluid. For simplicity we will restrict our attention to two-dimensional flow, although the results are applicable to the general three-dimensional case. From Chapter 6 we know that the governing equations are the continuity equation 0v 0u 0 0x 0y and the NavierStokes equations ra ra 0p 0u 0u 0 2u 0u 0 2u u v b ma 2 2 b 0t 0x 0y 0x 0x 0y 0p 0v 0v 0 2v 0v 0 2v u v b rg m a 2 2 b 0t 0x 0y 0y 0x 0y (7.29) (7.30) (7.28)

Similarity laws can be directly developed from the equations governing the phenomenon of interest.

where the y axis is vertical, so that the gravitational body force, rg, only appears in the y equation. To continue the mathematical description of the problem, boundary conditions are required. For example, velocities on all boundaries may be specified; that is, u uB and v vB at all boundary points x xB and y yB. In some types of problems it may be necessary to specify the pressure over some part of the boundary. For time-dependent problems, initial conditions would also have to be provided, which means that the values of all dependent variables would be given at some time 1usually taken at t 02. Once the governing equations, including boundary and initial conditions, are known, we are ready to proceed to develop similarity requirements. The next step is to define a new set of


Similitude Based on Governing Differential Equations


variables that are dimensionless. To do this we select a reference quantity for each type of variable. In this problem the variables are u, v, p, x, y, and t so we will need a reference velocity, V, a reference pressure, p0, a reference length, /, and a reference time, t. These reference quantities should be parameters that appear in the problem. For example, / may be a characteristic length of a body immersed in a fluid or the width of a channel through which a fluid is flowing. The velocity, V, may be the free-stream velocity or the inlet velocity. The new dimensionless 1starred2 variables can be expressed as
Each variable is made dimensionless by dividing by an appropriate reference quantity.

u* x*

u V x /

v* y*

v V y /

p* t* t t

p p0

y u=V v=0 p = p0 r, m

as shown in the figure in the margin. The governing equations can now be rewritten in terms of these new variables. For example, 0u 0 Vu* 0 x* V 0 u* 0x 0 x* 0 x / 0 x*
x= x

and V 0 2u* 0 2u V 0 0 u* 0 x* a b 2 2 / 0 x* 0 x* 0 x 0x / 0 x*2

y* u* = 1 v* = 0 p* = 1

x* = 1 x*

The other terms that appear in the equations can be expressed in a similar fashion. Thus, in terms of the new variables the governing equations become 0 v* 0 u* 0 0 x* 0 y* and c c rV 0 u* rV 2 mV p0 0 p* 0 u* 0 u* 0 2u* 0 2u* d c d a u* v* b c d c 2 d a b t 0 t* / 0 x* 0 y* / 0 x* / 0 x*2 0 y*2 rV 0 v* rV 2 0 v* 0 v* d c d a u* v* b t 0 t* / 0 x* 0 y* (7.32) (7.31)

The terms appearing in brackets contain the reference quantities and can be interpreted as indices of the various forces 1per unit volume2 that are involved. Thus, as is indicated in Eq. 7.33, FI/ inertia 1local2 force, FIc inertia 1convective2 force, Fp pressure force, FG gravitational force, and FV viscous force. As the final step in the nondimensionalization process, we will divide each term in Eqs. 7.32 and 7.33 by one of the bracketed quantities. Although any one of these quantities could be used, it is conventional to divide by the bracketed quantity rV 2/ which is the index of the convective inertia force. The final nondimensional form then becomes c c m p0 0 p* 0 2u* 0 2u* / 0 u* 0 u* 0 u* d u* v* c 2 d c da b tV 0 t* 0 x* 0 y* rV/ 0 x*2 rV 0 x* 0 y*2 m p0 0 p* g/ / 0 v* 0 v* 0 v* 0 2v* 0 2v* b d u* v* c 2d c da c 2 d tV 0 t* 0 x* 0 y* rV/ rV 0 y* V 0 x*2 0 y*2 (7.34) (7.35)

We see that bracketed terms are the standard dimensionless groups 1or their reciprocals2 which were developed from dimensional analysis; that is, /tV is a form of the Strouhal number, p0 rV 2


FIc c mV 0 2v* p0 0 p* 0 2 v* b d 3 rg 4 c 2 d a 2 / 0 y* / 0 x* 0 y*2 (7.33)





Chapter 7 Dimensional Analysis, Similitude, and Modeling

Governing equations expressed in terms of dimensionless variables lead to the appropriate dimensionless groups.

the Euler number, g/V 2 the reciprocal of the square of the Froude number, and m rV/ the reciprocal of the Reynolds number. From this analysis it is now clear how each of the dimensionless groups can be interpreted as the ratio of two forces, and how these groups arise naturally from the governing equations. Although we really have not helped ourselves with regard to obtaining an analytical solution to these equations 1they are still complicated and not amenable to an analytical solution2, the dimensionless forms of the equations, Eqs. 7.31, 7.34, and 7.35, can be used to establish similarity requirements. From these equations it follows that if two systems are governed by these equations, then the solutions 1 in terms of u*, v*, p*, x*, y*, and t* 2 will be the same if the four parameters /tV, p0 rV 2, V 2 g/, and rV/ m are equal for the two systems. The two systems will be dynamically similar. Of course, boundary and initial conditions expressed in dimensionless form must also be equal for the two systems, and this will require complete geometric similarity. These are the same similarity requirements that would be determined by a dimensional analysis if the same variables were considered. However, the advantage of working with the governing equations is that the variables appear naturally in the equations, and we do not have to worry about omitting an important one, provided the governing equations are correctly specified. We can thus use this method to deduce the conditions under which two solutions will be similar even though one of the solutions will most likely be obtained experimentally. In the foregoing analysis we have considered a general case in which the flow may be unsteady, and both the actual pressure level, p0, and the effect of gravity are important. A reduction in the number of similarity requirements can be achieved if one or more of these conditions is removed. For example, if the flow is steady the dimensionless group, /tV, can be eliminated. The actual pressure level will only be of importance if we are concerned with cavitation. If not, the flow patterns and the pressure differences will not depend on the pressure level. In this case, p0 2 can be taken as rV 2 1 or 1 2 rV 2 , and the Euler number can be eliminated as a similarity requirement. However, if we are concerned about cavitation 1which will occur in the flow field if the pressure at certain points reaches the vapor pressure, pv2, then the actual pressure level is important. Usually, in this case, the characteristic pressure, p0, is defined relative to the vapor pressure such that p0 pr pv where pr is some reference pressure within the flow field. With p0 defined in this manner, the similarity parameter p0 rV 2 becomes 1 pr pv 2 rV 2. This parameter is frequently written as 2 1 pr pv 2 1 2 rV , and in this form, as was noted previously in Section 7.6, is called the cavitation number. Thus we can conclude that if cavitation is not of concern we do not need a similarity parameter involving p0, but if cavitation is to be modeled, then the cavitation number becomes an important similarity parameter. The Froude number, which arises because of the inclusion of gravity, is important for problems in which there is a free surface. Examples of these types of problems include the study of rivers, flow through hydraulic structures such as spillways, and the drag on ships. In these situations the shape of the free surface is influenced by gravity, and therefore the Froude number becomes an important similarity parameter. However, if there are no free surfaces, the only effect of gravity is to superimpose a hydrostatic pressure distribution on the pressure distribution created by the fluid motion. The hydrostatic distribution can be eliminated from the governing equation 1Eq. 7.302 by defining a new pressure, p p rgy, and with this change the Froude number does not appear in the nondimensional governing equations. We conclude from this discussion that for the steady flow of an incompressible fluid without free surfaces, dynamic and kinematic similarity will be achieved if 1for geometrically similar systems2 Reynolds number similarity exists. If free surfaces are involved, Froude number similarity must also be maintained. For free-surface flows we have tacitly assumed that surface tension is not important. We would find, however, that if surface tension is included, its effect would appear in the free-surface boundary condition, and the Weber number, rV 2/s, would become an additional similarity parameter. In addition, if the governing equations for compressible fluids are considered, the Mach number, Vc, would appear as an additional similarity parameter. It is clear that all the common dimensionless groups that we previously developed by using dimensional analysis appear in the governing equations that describe fluid motion when these equations are expressed in terms of dimensionless variables. Thus, the use of the governing equations to obtain similarity laws provides an alternative to dimensional analysis. This approach has the


Chapter Summary and Study Guide


advantage that the variables are known and the assumptions involved are clearly identified. In addition, a physical interpretation of the various dimensionless groups can often be obtained.


Chapter Summary and Study Guide

Many practical engineering problems involving fluid mechanics require experimental data for their solution. Thus, laboratory studies and experimentation play a significant role in this field. It is important to develop good procedures for the design of experiments so they can be efficiently completed with as broad applicability as possible. To achieve this end the concept of similitude is often used in which measurements made in the laboratory can be utilized for predicting the behavior of other similar systems. In this chapter, dimensional analysis is used for designing such experiments, as an aid for correlating experimental data, and as the basis for the design of physical models. As the name implies, dimensional analysis is based on a consideration of the dimensions required to describe the variables in a given problem. A discussion of the use of dimensions and the concept of dimensional homogeneity (which forms the basis for dimensional analysis) was included in Chapter 1. Essentially, dimensional analysis simplifies a given problem described by a certain set of variables by reducing the number of variables that need to be considered. In addition to being fewer in number, the new variables are dimensionless products of the original variables. Typically these new dimensionless variables are much simpler to work with in performing the desired experiments. The Buckingham pi theorem, which forms the theoretical basis for dimensional analysis, is introduced. This theorem establishes the framework for reducing a given problem described in terms of a set of variables to a new set of fewer dimensionless variables. A simple method, called the repeating variable method, is described for actually forming the dimensionless variables (often called pi terms). Forming dimensionless variables by inspection is also considered. It is shown how the use of dimensionless variables can be of assistance in planning experiments and as an aid in correlating experimental data. For problems in which there are a large number of variables, the use of physical models is described. Models are used to make specific predictions from laboratory tests rather than formulating a general relationship for the phenomenon of interest. The correct design of a model is obviously imperative for the accurate predictions of other similar, but usually larger, systems. It is shown how dimensional analysis can be used to establish a valid model design. An alternative approach for establishing similarity requirements using governing equations (usually differential equations) is presented. The following checklist provides a study guide for this chapter. When your study of the entire chapter and end-of-chapter exercies has been completed you should be able to write out meanings of the terms listed here in the margin and understand each of the related concepts. These terms are particularly important and are set in italic, bold, and color type in the text. use the Buckingham pi theorem to determine the number of independent dimensionless variables needed for a given flow problem. form a set of dimensionless variables using the method of repeating variables. form a set of dimensionless variables by inspection. use dimensionless variables as an aid in interpreting and correlating experimental data. use dimensional analysis to establish a set of similarity requirements (and prediction equation) for a model to be used to predict the behavior of another similar system (the prototype). rewrite a given governing equation in a suitable nondimensional form and deduce similarity requirements from the nondimensional form of the equation. Some of the important equations in this chapter are: Reynolds number Froude number Re Fr rV/ m V 1g/

similitude dimensionless product basic dimensions pi term Buckingham pi theorem method of repeating variables model modeling laws prototype prediction equation model design conditions similarity requirements modeling laws length scale distorted model true model