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1. Real and Ideal Fluids

A fluid is assumed ideal if it posses the following characteristics:

It is inviscid
It is incompressible
It has no surface tension
It always form a continuum

In civil engineering, surface tension problems are encountered only in the very low flows
over weirs or in hydraulic models. Compressibility phenomena are associated with surge
as in the case of water hammer.
The viscosity is the characteristics which differentiates so many aspects of real fluid
flows from ideal flows.

Figure 1 Ideal and real flow around a cylinder.


2. Viscous Flow
In Fig 2, fluids are both sandwiched between a fixed solid surface on one side and a
movable belt on the other.

Figure 2 Effect of shear force on fluid

If the belt is set in motion, experimental measurements will indicate:

a- Ideal Fluid
The force required to move the belt is negligible
The movement of the belt has no effect whatsoever on the ideal fluid,
which remains stationary.
b- Real Fluid
A considerable force is required to maintain belt motion, even at low
The whole body of fluid is deforming and continues to deform as long as
belt motion continues. Closer investigation will reveal that deformation
pattern consists in the shearing, sliding, of one layer of fluid over another.
The layer of fluid immediately adjacent to the slid surface will adhere to
that surface and, similarly, the layer adjacent to the belt adheres to the belt.
Between the solid surface and the belt the fluid velocity is assumed to vary


The stability of laminar flows and the onset of turbulence

If the speed of the belt increased, the pattern of linearly sheared flow will continue to
exist only up to a certain belt velocity. Above that velocity a dramatic transformation
takes place in the flow pattern.
Effect of a disturbance in a sheared flow
Consider a slowly moving sheared flow. If a small disturbance happened (a small local
vibration), the pathlines will be slightly deflected, bunching together at A and opening
out correspondingly at B. This implies that the local velocity at A, u A, increases slightly
compared with the upstream velocity u, while at the same time uB reduces. From
Bernoulli equation,

P u2
= A + A = B + B
rg 2 g rg 2 g rg 2 g

Figure 3 Effects of disturbance on a viscous flow

Therefore PB>PA. It can thus be reasoned that the disturbance will produce a small
transverse resultant force acting from B towards A. The lateral components of velocity
will also produce a corresponding component of viscous shear force, which acts in the
opposite sense to the resultant disturbing force. As long as the fluid is moving slowly, the
resultant disturbing force tends to be outweighed by the viscous force. Disturbances are
therefore damped out. As the rate of shear increases, the effect of the disturbance
becomes more pronounced:

The difference between uA and u B increases

The pressure differences (PA-PB ) increases with (uA2-u B2), so the deflection of the
pathline becomes more pronounced
The greater shear results in a deformation of the crest of the pathline pattern.
When the shear is sufficiently great, the deformation is carried beyond the point at
which the rectilinear pattern of pathlines can cohere. The flow disintegrates into a
disorderly pattern of eddies in place of the orderly patterns of layers.


The Boundary layer

Figure 4 Development of a boundary layer

Consider a rectilinear flow passing over a stationary flat plate, which lies parallel to the
flow. The incident flow has a uniform velocity, U. As the flow comes into contact with
the plate, the layer of fluid immediately adjacent to the plate decelerates (due to viscous
friction) and comes to rest. This follows from the postulate that in viscous fluids a thin
layer of fluid adhere to a solid surface. There is then a considerable shearing action
between the layer of fluid on the plate surface and the second layer of fluid. The second
layer is therefore forced to decelerate (it is not quiet brought to rest), creating a shearing
action with the third layer of fluid and so on. As the fluid passes further along the plate,
the zone in which shearing action occurs tends to spread further outwards. This zone is
known as a boundary layer. Outside the boundary layer the flow remains effectively
free of shear, so the fluid here is not subjected to viscosity-related forces. The fluid flow
outside the boundary layer may therefore be assumed to act like an ideal fluid.
The flow within the boundary layer may be viscous or turbulent, depending on the value
of the Reynolds Number. To evaluate Re we need a typical dimension and in boundary
layers this dimension is usually the distance in the x-plane from the leading edge of the
solid boundary. The Reynolds number thus becomes Rex=rUx/m.
The structure of the boundary layer is therefore as shown in figure 5.


Figure 5 Structure of a boundary layer

Implications of the boundary layer concept
Different material exhibit different degrees of roughness. Does this have any effect on the
boundary layer?

In laminar flow, the friction is transmitted by pure shearing action. Consequently, the
roughness of the solid surface has no effect, except to trap small pools of stationary
fluid in the interstices, and thus slightly increase the thickness of the stationary layer
of fluid.
In a turbulent flow, a laminar sub-layer forms close to the solid surface. If the average
height of the surface roughness is smaller than the height of the laminar sub-layer,
there will be little or no effect on the overall flow.
Turbulent flow embodies a process of momentum transfer from layer to layer.
Consequently, if the surface roughness protrudes through the laminar region into the
turbulent region, then it will cause additional eddy formation and therefore greater
energy loss in the turbulent flow. This implies that the apparent frictional shear will
be increased.