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Flow Equations

Equations Describing Fluid Flow


The flow of most fluids may be analyzed mathematically by the use of two equations. The first,
often referred to as the Continuity Equation, requires that the mass of fluid entering a fixed
control volume either leaves that volume or accumulates within it. It is thus a "mass balance"
requirement posed in mathematical form, and is a scalar equation. The other governing equation
is the Momentum Equation, orNavier-Stokes Equation, and may be thought of as a "momentum
balance." As will be seen later, the Navier-Stokes equations are the fluid dynamic equivalent of
Newtons second law, force equals mass times acceleration. The Navier-Stokes equations are
vector equations, meaning that there is a separate equation for each of the coordinate directions
(usually three).
There are many methods to derive these equations. One of the simplest, a control volume
approach, is used here to demonstrate the origin of each term. These equations may be used to
analyze the flow of most common fluids in internal (pipes) or external (wings) flow situations.
Mathematically speaking, these equations are extremely difficult to solve in their raw form. The
Navier-Stokes equations are second order, non-homogenous, non-linear partial differential
equations that require at least two boundary conditions for solution. Most solutions that exist are
for highly simplified flow situations where certain terms in the equations have been eliminated
through some rational process.
Derivation of the Continuity Equation
Lets start with a small, fixed volume of fluid somewhere in the middle of a flow stream. This
elemental volume has sides of lengths Dx, Dy and Dz (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Illustration of the elemental volume used to derive the equations.


These lengths are short enough so that changes in all fluid properties across the volume may be
well approximated with linear functions. On the other hand, these dimensions must me large
enough so that the fluid may be considered as a continuum (i.e., much larger than the molecular

scale). The mass of fluid in this elemental volume depends on the amount of fluid entering and
leaving through the faces. The difference between these two is the rate of mass that accumulates
in the volume. The rate of mass entering a face is the product of the density, the fluid velocity
and the face area. For example, on the side facing the reader, the density (r) is multiplied by the
velocity in the x direction (u) and the area of the face Dy Dz. Thus, the mass flux entering the
volume through this face is

The mass leaving the volume on the opposite side of the volume is again the product of density,
velocity and area, but the density and velocity may have changed as the fluid passed through the
volume. We will express these changes as small quantities (since our volume is small enough),
i.e., r+ Dr and u + Du. The mass flux leaving that face is thus

The negative sign tells us that the mass is leaving, rather than entering, the control volume.
Performing the same analysis on the mass entering the volume through the other faces of the
volume gives us

where v is the y direction velocity and w is the z direction velocity. Similarly, the mass fluxes
leaving the volume on the opposite faces are

All of these added together must equal the mass of fluid accumulating in the volume,

Putting all of these together, we have

Multiplying out the quantities in parentheses results in the cancellation of some terms and the
appearance of higher-order terms such as Dr Du Dy Dz. Since the quantities preceded by D are
very small, products of these quantities will be extremely small, depending on the number

of D terms included in the product. The terms with four of these will be much smaller than the
terms with only three D terms. Thus, all higher order terms are neglected. This leaves

which, when divided by

and rearranged, yields

The application of basic calculus (taking the limit as Dt tends to 0) allows us to write this
equation as

where the symbol / t, for example, is a "partial derivative" with respect to time. Partial
derivatives are used when the function (velocity or density in this case) depends on several
variables (3 position or spatial variables and time, in this case).
The Continuity Equation may be simplified for some common flow situations as follows. If the
fluid may be treated as incompressible (as is the case with water or in low velocity air flows), the
density will be constant. The Continuity Equation then becomes

In the case when the flow is steady (all time derivatives are zero), then

Note that in this equation, the density and velocities are still functions of the spatial coordinates
x,y and z.
Derivation of the Momentum (Navier Stokes) Equations
Again we start with a small, fixed volume of fluid somewhere in the middle of a flow stream
with sides of lengths Dx, Dy and Dz (see Figure 1). The law of the conservation of momentum
states that the rate of change of momentum in the control volume must equal the net momentum

flux into the control volume plus any external forces acting on the control volume. We will first
deal with the momentum change and flux, then with the external forces. Recall that momentum,
the product of mass and velocity, is a vector quantity. This derivation will be based on the
momentum in the x direction in Cartesian coordinates. Similar derivations may be demonstrated
for the y and z direction. This would make a good exercise to better understand this material.
There are thus three different momentum equations that together comprise the Navier-Stokes
Equations.

Momentum Change and Flux


The time rate of change of momentum within the control volume is

where / t is the partial derivative operator with respect to time presented above. The flux of
momentum in the x direction into each face of the control volume is the product of the mass flux
(mf x DA) and the x direction velocity,

where DA is the surface area. For the side facing the reader, the momentum flux is thus

The momentum flux out the opposite side is

The mass flux into the face with normal vector in the negative y direction is as derived for the
continuity equation above, or rv. The momentum flux into this face is thus

For the face opposite, the momentum flux out is

Using a similar analysis, it is easily shown that the momentum flux into and out of the faces with
normal vectors in the z direction are

Our first expression of the momentum equation comes from adding all of these terms together as
expressed in the law of the conservation of momentum

where SFx is the sum of the external forces on the control volume. The momentum fluxes into the
control volume cancel with the first part of the momentum fluxes out of the control volume.
Performing this cancellation and moving the momentum fluxes to the left hand side of the
equation gives

Using the product rule, the momentum change and fluxes can be expanded to

where it is noted that the last four terms in parentheses are the continuity equation times u. Since
this must be zero, that leaves

In the same method we can calculate the force in the y and z directions:

Derivation of Forces
We now turn our attention to the right hand side of the equation, where the forces on the control
volume are represented. There are two types of forces to be included: body forces and surface
forces. Body forces act on the entire control volume. The most common body force is that due to
gravity. Electromagnetic phenomena may also create body forces, but this is a rather specialized
situation. The body force due to gravity is the component of the acceleration due to gravity in the
x-direction (gx) times the mass of the fluid control volume (density times volume), or
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Surface forces act on only one particular surface of the control volume at a time, and arise due to
pressure or viscous stresses. The stress on a surface of the control volume acts in the outward
direction, and is given the symbol sij, with two subscripts. The first subscript i indicates the
normal direction of the face on which the stress acts, while the second subscript j indicates the
direction of the stress. For example, using the cube above, the x axis is the normal direction to
the back y-z face of the cube, the y axis is the normal direction to the left x-z face of the cube and
the z axis is the normal direction to the top x-y face of the cube. Also, the -x axis is the normal
direction to the front y-z face of the cube, the -y axis is the normal direction to the right x-z face
of the cube and the -z axis is the normal direction to the bottom x-y face of the cube.
The force due to the stress is the product of the stress and the area over which it acts. Thus, on
the faces with normals in the x-direction (DyDz), the forces acting in the x-direction due to the
direct stresses are
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The sum of these two forces is

Similarly, on the faces with normals in the y-direction (DxDz), the forces in the x-direction due
to shear stresses sum to

and on the faces with normals in the z-direction (DxDy), the forces in the x-direction due to
shear stresses sum to

The sum of all surface forces in the x-direction is thus

The stress sxx includes the pressure p (acting inward, and, hence, has a negative sign) and the
normal viscous stress txx. The stresses syx and szx include only viscous shearing stresses tyx and tzx.
This gives the force in the x-direction as:

Newtonian/Non-Newtonian Fluids
Most fluids may be classified as Newtonian fluids. A Newtonian fluid is one in which the viscous
stress is linearly proportional to the rate of deformation (t ~ du/dy). The constant of
proportionality is the viscosity, m. Air would be considered a low viscosity Newtonian fluid,
while water would be a medium viscosity Newtonian fluid. Motor oil and Maple Syrup are high
viscosity Newtonian fluids. Fluids that do not follow the Newtonian behavior law include
toothpaste, blood and paints. For an incompressible Newtonian fluid the viscous stresses are

Some of these terms can be cancelled out using the continuity equation. The remaining terms,
combined with the body force term and put into the equation for the force in the x-direction, give

This gives, as the final expression of the x-momentum equation,

Recall that there are corresponding momentum equations in the y and z directions, namely

and

The derivation of these equations would be a good exercise for the viewer.

Derivation of the Energy Equation


In situations where the fluid may be treated as incompressible and temperature differences are
small, the continuity and momentum equations are sufficient to specify the velocities and
pressure (that is, four equations [continuity+3 momentum] and four unknown quantities [u,v,w
and p]). If the flow is compressible (r is not constant), or if heat flux occurs (temperature not
constant), at least one additional equation is required. In some of these instances, the energy
equation may be used. In the derivation, we use the fact that work is the dot product of velocity
and force and the fact that work and energy are related to each other.
The energy equation is, of course, a scalar equation, meaning that it has no particular direction
associated with it. The procedure for deriving the energy equation is similar to those presented
for the continuity and momentum equations. In this case, the change in energy of the fluid
within the control volume is equal to the net thermal energy transferred into the control volume
plus the rate of work done by external forces. The energy of the fluid is expressed in this case as
the sum of the absolute thermodynamic internal energy per unit mass, e, and the kinetic energy
per unit mass, 1/2 V2, (V is the magnitude of the velocity vector). The change in total energy
per unit volume of the fluid in the control volume is

As was found above for the momentum transfer into and out of the control volume, the net
transfer of energy per unit volume through the control volume is

This equation is obtained by replacing the momentum term (density times velocity) by the
energy term (density times the sum of the internal and kinetic energies). The net thermal energy
transferred into the control volume is determined by the heat flux qi, positive for heat going from

within the control volume to the surroundings in the ith-direction (that is, the x-,y- or z-direction).
The total heat per unit volume transferred into the control volume is

The rate of work per unit volume being done by the surface forces is found by multiplying the
stress, sij, by the velocity in the j-direction for each i face. Similar to the procedure above for the
stresses in the momentum equation, the net rate of work being done from all sides is

Lastly, the rate of work per unit volume done by the gravity force vector (g = gx i + gy j + gz k ),
is

Putting all of these terms together, we have

Fourier's Heat Conduction


We will now use Fourier's Law of Heat Conduction that relates the heat flow in the ith direction,
qi, to the rate of change of temperature in the ith direction, namely,
qi = -kiA T/ xi

i=1,2,3 represents the x,y,z

directions
where ki is the heat conduction coefficient in the ith-direction, A represents the surface area
perpendicular to the ith-direction, and T represents the temperature of the flow. From the Zeroth
Law of Thermodynamics, heat flows from a location of higher temperature to that of a lower
temperature. If, for example, this is in the x-direction, then T/ x is negative. But since heat
flow is considered positive when flowing from the control volume to the surroundings (meaning,
in this case, in the positive x-direction), then for q x to be positive, we need the minus sign as
indicated. Thus the heat flow rate per unit volume terms

become
(kx T/ x)/ x + (ky T/ y)/ y + (kz T/ z)/ z
which, in the case of constant heat conduction coefficient (kx = ky = kz = k), become

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The rate of work per unit volume being done by the surface forces is found by multiplying the
stress sij by the velocity in the j direction for each i face. Similar to the procedure above for the
stresses in the momentum equation, the net rate of work per unit volume being done from all
sides is

Using the relationship between surface stresses and velocity gradients for incompressible
Newtonian fluids, this becomes

Lastly, the rate of work done per unit volume by gravity is

Putting all of these terms together, we have

This equation demonstrates that, per unit volume, the change in energy of the fluid moving
through a control volume is equal to the rate of heat transferred into the control volume plus the
rate of work done by surface forces plus the rate of work done by gravity. This expression of the
energy equation is valid for most applications. However, some specialized situations may require
additional terms representing the contributions of other sources (electromagnetic forces, etc.).