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Chapter 7 Dimensional Analysis, Similitude, and Modeling

It is clear from Eq. 7.19 that geometric similarity /im /i /m / as well as Reynolds number similarity rV/ rmVm/m mm m must be maintained. If these conditions are met, then
For flow around bodies, drag is often the dependent variable of interest.

em e /m /

1 2 2 2 rV /

dm 1 2 2 2 rmVm/m

or d r V 2 / 2 a b a b dm rm Vm /m

Measurements of model drag, dm, can then be used to predict the corresponding drag, d, on the prototype from this relationship. As was discussed in the previous section, one of the common difficulties with models is related to the Reynolds number similarity requirement which establishes the model velocity as Vm or Vm nm / V n /m (7.21) mm r / V m rm /m (7.20)

where nm n is the ratio of kinematic viscosities. If the same fluid is used for model and prototype so that nm n, then Vm / V /m

V7.14 Model airplane test in water

V7.15 Large scale wind tunnel

and, therefore, the required model velocity will be higher than the prototype velocity for //m greater than 1. Since this ratio is often relatively large, the required value of Vm may be large. For 1 example, for a 10 length scale, and a prototype velocity of 50 mph, the required model velocity is 500 mph. This is a value that is unreasonably high to achieve with liquids, and for gas flows this would be in the range where compressibility would be important in the model 1but not in the prototype2. As an alternative, we see from Eq. 7.21 that Vm could be reduced by using a different fluid in the model such that nm n 6 1. For example, the ratio of the kinematic viscosity of water to that 1 , so that if the prototype fluid were air, tests might be run on the model of air is approximately 10 using water. This would reduce the required model velocity, but it still may be difficult to achieve the necessary velocity in a suitable test facility, such as a water tunnel. Another possibility for wind tunnel tests would be to increase the air pressure in the tunnel so that rm 7 r, thus reducing the required model velocity as specified by Eq. 7.20. Fluid viscosity is not strongly influenced by pressure. Although pressurized tunnels have been used, they are obviously more complicated and expensive. The required model velocity can also be reduced if the length scale is modest; that is, the model is relatively large. For wind tunnel testing, this requires a large test section which greatly increases the cost of the facility. However, large wind tunnels suitable for testing very large models 1or prototypes2 are in use. One such tunnel, located at the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, has a test section that is 40 ft by 80 ft and can accommodate test speeds to 345 mph. Such a large and expensive test facility is obviously not feasible for university or industrial laboratories, so most model testing has to be accomplished with relatively small models.


Some Typical Model Studies




Model Design Conditions and Predicted Prototype Performance

(b) the drag on the prototype corresponding to a measured force of 1 lb on the model.

GIVEN The drag on the airplane shown in Fig. E7.7 cruising at 240 mph in standard air is to be determined from tests on a 1:10 scale model placed in a pressurized wind tunnel. To minimize compressibility effects, the air speed in the wind tunnel is also to be 240 mph. FIND Determine
(a) the required air pressure in the tunnel (assuming the same air temperature for model and prototype) and

V = 240 mph



(a) From Eq. 7.19 it follows that drag can be predicted from a geometrically similar model if the Reynolds numbers in model and prototype are the same. Thus, rm Vm/m rV/ mm m
1 For this example, Vm V and /m / 10 so that

for constant temperature 1 T Tm 2 . Therefore, the wind tunnel would need to be pressurized so that pm 10 p Since the prototype operates at standard atmospheric pressure, the required pressure in the wind tunnel is 10 atmospheres or pm 10 1 14.7 psia 2 147 psia

mm V / rm m Vm /m r mm 1 1 2 1 10 2 m and therefore rm mm 10 m r This result shows that the same fluid with rm r and mm m cannot be used if Reynolds number similarity is to be maintained. One possibility is to pressurize the wind tunnel to increase the density of the air. We assume that an increase in pressure does not significantly change the viscosity so that the required increase in density is given by the relationship rm 10 r For an ideal gas, p rRT so that rm pm r p


COMMENT Thus, we see that a high pressure would be required and this could not be achieved easily or inexpensively. However, under these conditions, Reynolds similarity would be attained. (b) The drag could be obtained from Eq. 7.19 so that d
1 2 2 2 rV /

dm 1 2 2 2 rmVm/m

or d r V 2 / 2 a b a b dm rm Vm /m 1 b 1 1 2 2 1 10 2 2dm 10

10dm Thus, for a drag of 1 lb on the model the corresponding drag on the prototype is d 10 lb


V7.16 Wind tunnel train model

Fortunately, in many situations the flow characteristics are not strongly influenced by the Reynolds number over the operating range of interest. In these cases we can avoid the rather stringent similarity requirement of matching Reynolds numbers. To illustrate this point, consider the variation in the drag coefficient with the Reynolds number for a smooth sphere of diameter d placed in a uniform stream with approach velocity, V. Some typical data are shown in Fig. 7.7. We observe that for Reynolds numbers between approximately 103 and 2 105 the drag coefficient is relatively constant and does not strongly depend on the specific value of the Reynolds number. Thus, exact Reynolds number similarity is not required in this range. For other geometric shapes we would typically find that for high Reynolds numbers, inertial forces are dominant 1rather than viscous forces2, and the drag is essentially independent of the Reynolds number.


Chapter 7 Dimensional Analysis, Similitude, and Modeling

400 200 100 80 60 40 Drag coefficient, CD 20 10 8 6 4 2 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.1 0.08 0.06 101

4 68 2 100

4 68 2 101

4 68 2 102

4 68 2 4 68 2 103 104 Vd Reynolds number, Re = ____

4 68 2 105

4 68 106

F I G U R E 7.7 The effect of Reynolds number on the drag coefficient, CD, for a 2 2 smooth sphere with CD d1 2 ARV , where A is the projected area of sphere, Pd 4. (Data from Ref. 16, used by permission.)

At high Reynolds numbers the drag is often essentially independent of the Reynolds number.

Another interesting point to note from Fig. 7.7 is the rather abrupt drop in the drag coefficient near a Reynolds number of 3 105. As is discussed in Section 9.3.3, this is due to a change in the flow conditions near the surface of the sphere. These changes are influenced by the surface roughness and, in fact, the drag coefficient for a sphere with a rougher surface will generally be less than that of the smooth sphere for high Reynolds number. For example, the dimples on a golf ball are used to reduce the drag over that which would occur for a smooth golf ball. Although this is undoubtedly of great interest to the avid golfer, it is also important to engineers responsible for fluid-flow models, since it does emphasize the potential importance of the surface roughness. However, for bodies that are sufficiently angular with sharp corners, the actual surface roughness is likely to play a secondary role compared with the main geometric features of the body. One final note with regard to Fig. 7.7 concerns the interpretation of experimental data when plotting pi terms. For example, if r, m, and d remain constant, then an increase in Re comes from an increase in V. Intuitively, it would seem in general that if V increases, the drag would increase. However, as shown in the figure, the drag coefficient generally decreases with increasing Re. When interpreting data, one needs to be aware if the variables are nondimensional. In this case, the physical drag force is proportional to the drag coefficient times the velocity squared. Thus, as shown by the figure in the margin, the drag force does, as expected, increase with increasing velocity. The exception occurs in the Reynolds number range 2 105 6 Re 6 4 105 where the drag coefficient decreases dramatically with increasing Reynolds number (see Fig. 7.7). This phenomena is discussed in Section 9.3. For problems involving high velocities in which the Mach number is greater than about 0.3, the influence of compressibility, and therefore the Mach number 1or Cauchy number2, becomes significant. In this case complete similarity requires not only geometric and Reynolds number similarity but also Mach number similarity so that Vm V cm c (7.22)

This similarity requirement, when combined with that for Reynolds number similarity 1Eq. 7.212, yields c n /m nm / cm (7.23)


Some Typical Model Studies


Clearly the same fluid with c cm and n nm cannot be used in model and prototype unless the length scale is unity 1which means that we are running tests on the prototype2. In high-speed aerodynamics the prototype fluid is usually air, and it is difficult to satisfy Eq. 7.23 for reasonable length scales. Thus, models involving high-speed flows are often distorted with respect to Reynolds number similarity, but Mach number similarity is maintained.

7.9.3 Flow with a Free Surface

Froude number similarity is usually required for models involving freesurface flows.

Flows in canals, rivers, spillways, and stilling basins, as well as flow around ships, are all examples of flow phenomena involving a free surface. For this class of problems, both gravitational and inertial forces are important and, therefore, the Froude number becomes an important similarity parameter. Also, since there is a free surface with a liquidair interface, forces due to surface tension may be significant, and the Weber number becomes another similarity parameter that needs to be considered along with the Reynolds number. Geometric variables will obviously still be important. Thus a general formulation for problems involving flow with a free surface can be expressed as /i e rV/ V rV 2/ b , Dependent pi term f a , , , (7.24) / / m 2g/ s As discussed previously, / is some characteristic length of the system, /i represents other pertinent lengths, and e/ is the relative roughness of the various surfaces. Since gravity is the driving force in these problems, Froude number similarity is definitely required so that Vm 2gm/m V 2g/

V7.17 River flow model

The model and prototype are expected to operate in the same gravitational field 1 gm g 2 , and therefore it follows that /m Vm 1l/ V B/ (7.25)

Thus, when models are designed on the basis of Froude number similarity, the velocity scale is determined by the square root of the length scale. As is discussed in Section 7.8.3, to simultaneously have Reynolds and Froude number similarity it is necessary that the kinematic viscosity scale be related to the length scale as nm 1 l/ 2 3 2 n (7.26)

The working fluid for the prototype is normally either freshwater or seawater and the length scale is small. Under these circumstances it is virtually impossible to satisfy Eq. 7.26, so models involving free-surface flows are usually distorted. The problem is further complicated if an attempt is made to model surface tension effects, since this requires the equality of Weber numbers, which leads to the condition sm rm 1 l/ 2 2 sr (7.27)

V7.18 Boat model

for the kinematic surface tension 1 sr 2 . It is again evident that the same fluid cannot be used in model and prototype if we are to have similitude with respect to surface tension effects for l/ 1. Fortunately, in many problems involving free-surface flows, both surface tension and viscous effects are small and consequently strict adherence to Weber and Reynolds number similarity is not required. Certainly, surface tension is not important in large hydraulic structures and rivers. Our only concern would be if in a model the depths were reduced to the point where surface tension becomes an important factor, whereas it is not in the prototype. This is of particular importance in the design of river models, since the length scales are typically small 1so that the width of the model is reasonable2, but with a small length scale the required model depth may be very small. To overcome this problem, different horizontal and vertical length scales are often used for river