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# Reynolds-averaged NavierStokes equations

## The Reynolds-averaged NavierStokes equations (or

RANS equations) are time-averaged[1] equations of motion for uid ow. The idea behind the equations
is Reynolds decomposition, whereby an instantaneous
quantity is decomposed into its time-averaged and uctuating quantities, an idea rst proposed by Osborne
Reynolds.[2] The RANS equations are primarily used
to describe turbulent ows. These equations can be
used with approximations based on knowledge of the
properties of ow turbulence to give approximate timeaveraged solutions to the NavierStokes equations. For
a stationary, incompressible Newtonian uid, these equations can be written in Einstein notation as:

because the two terms do not appear simultaneously in the same equation. To avoid confusion, the notation u, u
, and u will be used to
represent the instantaneous, mean, and uctuating terms, respectively.
The properties of Reynolds operators are useful in the
derivation of the RANS equations. Using these properties, the NavierStokes equations of motion, expressed
in tensor notation, are (for an incompressible Newtonian
uid):

ui
=0
xi
[
(
)
]
u
i

u
i
u
j
2

uj
= fi +

pij +
+
ui uju.i + u ui = f 1 p + ui
j
i
xj
xj
xj
xi
t
xj
xi
xj xj
The left hand side of this equation represents the change where fi is a vector representing external forces.
in mean momentum of uid element owing to the unNext, each instantaneous quantity can be split into timesteadiness in the mean ow and the convection by the
averaged and uctuating components, and the resulting
mean ow. This change is balanced by the mean body
equation time-averaged,
force, the isotropic stress owing to the mean
( pressure
) [4]
to yield:
eld, the viscous stresses, and apparent stress ui uj
owing to the uctuating velocity eld, generally referred
to as the Reynolds stress. This nonlinear Reynolds stress ui
term requires additional modeling to close the RANS xi = 0
equation for solving, and has led to the creation of many
2

## dierent turbulence models. The time-average operator ui + u ui + u ui = f 1 p + ui .

j
i
j
t
xj
xj
xi
xj xj
. is a Reynolds operator.
The momentum equation can also be written as,[5]

ui uj
ui
ui
1 p
2 ui
+ uj
= fi
+

.
t
xj
xi
xj xj
xj

## The basic tool required for the derivation of the RANS

equations from the instantaneous NavierStokes equations is the Reynolds decomposition. Reynolds decomposition refers to separation of the ow variable (like velocity u ) into the mean (time-averaged) component ( u )
and the uctuating component ( u ). Because the mean
operator is a Reynolds operator, it has a set of properties.
One of these properties is that the mean of the uctuating
quantity being equal to zero (u = 0) . Thus,

## On further manipulations this yields,

]
ui
ui
[
+uj
= fi +

pij + 2Sij ui uj
t
xj
xj
(
)
uj
ui
is the mean rate of strain
where, Sij = 12 x
+
xi
j
tensor.

Finally, since integration in time removes the time dependence of the resultant terms, the time derivative must be
eliminated, leaving:

u(x, t) = u
(x) + u (x, t) , where x =
(x, y, z) is the position vector. Some authors[3]
prefer using U instead of u
for the mean term
(since an overbar is sometimes used to represent a vector). In this case, the uctuating term
u is represented instead by u . This is possible

uj
1

]
[
ui
= fi +

pij + 2Sij ui uj .
xj
xj

2 NOTES

Notes

) of a variable ( x ) is dened
[1] The true time average ( X
by
t0 +T
= lim 1
X
x dt.
T T
t0
) must
For this to be a well-dened term, the limit ( X
be independent of the initial condition at t0 . In the case
of a chaotic dynamical system, which the equations under turbulent conditions are thought to be, this means
that the system can have only one strange attractor, a result that has yet to be proved for the Navier-Stokes equations. However, assuming the limit exists (which it does
for any bounded system, which uid velocities certainly
are), there exists some T such that integration from t0
to T is arbitrarily close to the average. This means that
given transient data over a suciently large time, the average can be numerically computed within some small error. However, there is no analytical way to obtain an upper
bound on T .
[2] Reynolds, Osborne, 1895: On the Dynamical Theory of
Incompressible Viscous Fluids and the Determination of
the Criterion. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. A, v. 186, pp. 123-164. Available online
from JSTOR.
[3] Tennekes, H.; Lumley, J. L. (1992). A rst course in turbulence (14. print. ed.). Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.]: MIT
Press. ISBN 978-0-262-20019-6.
[4] Splitting each instantaneous quantity into its averaged and
uctuating components yields,
(ui + ui )
=0
xi
) (ui + ui )
(
) 1 (
(ui + ui ) (
p + p )
2 (ui + ui )
+ uj + uj
= fi + fi
+
.
t
xj

xi
xj xj
Time-averaging these equations yields,
(ui + ui )
=0
xi
) (ui + ui )
(
) 1 (
(ui + ui ) (
2 (ui + ui )
p + p )
+ uj + uj
= fi + fi
+
.
t
xj

xi
xj xj
Note that the nonlinear terms (like ui ui ) can be
simplied to, ui ui = (ui + ui ) (ui + ui ) =
ui ui + ui ui + ui ui + ui ui = ui ui + ui ui
[5] This follows from the mass conservation equation which
gives,
ui
ui
ui
=
+
=0
xi
xi
xi

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