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Blasius boundary layer

a Blasius boundary layer (named after Paul Richard Heinrich Blasius) describes the steady
two-dimensional laminar boundary layer that forms on a semi-infinite plate which is held
parallel to a constant unidirectional flow. Falkner and Skan later generalized Blasius' solution
to wedge flow, i.e. flows in which the plate is not parallel to the flow.
Prandtl's boundary layer equations

A schematic diagram of the Blasius flow profile. The streamwise velocity component
is shown, as a function of the similarity variable

Using scaling arguments, Ludwig Prandtl[1] has argued that about half of the terms in the Navier-Stokes equations
are negligible in boundary layer flows (except in a small region near the leading edge of the plate). This leads to a
reduced set of equations knows as the boundary layer equations. For steady incompressible flow with constant
viscosity and density, these read:



Here the coordinate system is chosen with pointing parallel to the plate in the directon of the flow and the
coordinate pointing towards the free stream, and are the and velocity components, is the pressure, is the
density and is the kinematic viscosity.
These three partial differential equations for


By integrating the continuity equation over

can be reduced to a single equation for


can be expressed as a function of

as follows

The -momentum equation implies that the pressure in the boundary layer must be equal to that of the free
stream for any given coordinate. Because the velocity profile is flat in the free stream, there are no
viscous effects and Bernoulli's law applies:

or, after differentiation:

is the velocity of the free stream. The derivatives are not partials because there is no variation
with respect to the coordinate.
Substitution of these results into the

-momentum equations gives:

A number of similarity solutions to this equation have been found for various types of flow, including flat plate
boundary layers. The term similarity refers to the property that the velocity profiles at different positions in the flow
are the same apart from a scaling factor. These solutions are often presented in the form of non-linear ordinary
differential equations.
Blasius equation
Blasius[2] proposed a similarity solution for the case in which the free stream velocity is constant,
which corresponds to the boundary layer over a flat plate that is oriented parallel to the free flow. First he introduced
the similarity variable

Developing Blasius boundary layer (not ot scale). The velocity profile is shown in red at
selected positions along the plate. The blue lines represent, in top to bottom order, the 99%

free stream velocity line (


), the displacement thickness (

) and

). See Boundary layer thickness for a more detailed explanation.

is proportional to the boundary layer thickness. The factor 2 is actually a later
addition that, as White[3] points out, avoids a constant in the final differential equation. Next Blasius proposed the
stream function

in which the newly introduced normalized stream function,

leads directly to the velocity components

Where the prime denotes derivation with respect to


, is only a function of the similarity variable. This

. Substitution into the momentum equation gives the Blasius

This is an third order non-linear ordinary differential equation which can be solved numerically, e.g. with the
shooting method.
The boundary conditions are the no-slip condition

impermeability of the wall

and the free stream velocity outside the boundary layer