Hydraulics and Hydrology (CIVL2004/2104


Boundary Layer and Wake

1. Introduction

(a) Boundary Layer at Pipe Entrance

Consider the steady laminar flow through a well rounded entrance transition from a
reservoir to a smooth pipe (Fig. 1.1).

Fig.1.1 Development of boundary layer at pipe entrance (a) laminar flow (b) turbulent flow
(Douglas, et al.)

The streamlined entrance ensures that the flow is fairly uniform across the entrance. This uniform
profile is sometimes referred to as the core. The retardation of the flow at the wall due to viscous
resistance (no slip condition at the pipe wall for real fluids) results in the gradual growth of the
thickness of the retarded fluid layer adjacent to the wall and a consequent shrinking of the
concentric core. This retarded fluid layer is referred to as the boundary layer which grows in
thickness along the downstream direction. A fully developed laminar flow is eventually
established further downstream with the disappearance of the core. The fully developed laminar
flow occurs beyond a certain distance from the entrance that is greater than the length of the core.
The length of this transition xL is obtained from experiments and is given by

(1.1) x L = 0.03Re D

This length clearly depends on the flow through the Reynolds number Re (so long as the flow is
laminar) and the diameter D of the pipe. Once fully developed, the velocity profiles will be
identical since the flow is steady. For turbulent flow, a corresponding general relationship giving
the turbulent entrance length is not available. The turbulent entrance length depends on the local
conditions at entry and it is sometimes more and sometime less than xL in Eq. (1.1).

(b) Boundary Layer over a Flat Plate

Consider a smooth flat plate aligned parallel to a steady stream of flow where the pressure
is uniform as shown in Fig. 1.2. When the flow encounters the plate, the fluid layer in contact
with the plate is retarded due to viscosity and more and more layers of fluid are retarded as the
flow continues downstream.

Fig.1.2 Development of the turbulent boundary layer over a flat plate

The laminar region begins at the leading edge of the plate and grows in thickness. With
increasing thickness, however, the laminar boundary layer becomes unstable and a transition
region is reached where the irregularities in the flow develop into turbulence with consequent
rapid thickening of the turbulent boundary layer. The turbulent boundary layer may be assumed
to start from a small distance x0 from the leading edge of the plate (Fig. 1.3). The transitions of
boundary layers over an airfoil are shown in Figure 1.4.

Fig. 1.3 Transition from laminar to turbulent boundary layer

The point at which the laminar boundary layer becomes unstable depends on
(a) roughness of the surface, where a rough surface tends to hasten the transition to
(b) turbulence in the mainstream
(c) pressure gradient in the mainstream just outside the boundary layer
(d) the local Reynolds number Rex defined by

where x is measured from the leading edge of the plate, Um is the local mainstream velocity and
is the kinematic viscosity of the fluid.


the shear stress at the plate is given by ∂u (1. Thus.5. the random movements of the flow die out very close to the surface where viscous conditions prevail.com/2009/01/coefficient-fastskinz/?awcom-0209) Even with the turbulent boundary layer. the turbulent boundary layer has a steeper velocity gradient at the plate as shown in Fig. 1. 3 . 1. As a result.4 Transitions from laminar to turbulent boundary layers around an airfoil (Fox. 1. With the existence of the viscous sublayer in the turbulent boundary layer.Fig. This layer is called the viscous sublayer δS within which the velocity profile is assumed to be linear because viscous forces are predominant (see Fig. the growth of the turbulent boundary layer is accompanied by the development of a very thin layer adjacent to the wall where the effects of viscosity are predominant.maxgladwell.2). there is strong intermingling of the fluid particles resulting in a more uniform velocity than in laminar flow. et al) and around a car (http://www.3) τw = µ    ∂ z  z =0 In turbulent flow.

5(a). (a) (b) Fig.5(b). the flow outside the boundary layer may 4 .6) For fluids of low viscosity such as air and water.4) (1.5 Definitions of the boundary layer thickness and displacement thickness Another measure is the displacement thickness δ* which is defined as the distance by which the boundary would have to be displaced if the entire flow were imagined to be frictionless and the same mass flow is maintained as shown in Figure 1. the displacement thickness δ* is represented as: (1. 1. This is illustrated in Fig. 1.5 Normalised laminar and turbulent velocity profiles (c) Boundary Layer Thickness The thickness of the boundary layer is the distance δ from the wall to the point where the fluid velocity is within 1% of the local mainstream velocity. 1. Fig.5) (1. Mathematically.

1) Mass flow rate leaving the control volume through CD and BD (2. For the flat plate. At this level. For streamlined bodies. the boundary layers are extremely thin and can be neglected in calculating the structure of the main flow.l. mass flow rate entering the control volume = mass flow rate leaving the control volume (2. a uniform pressure is assumed along the freestream implying that there is no other solid surface in the vicinity of the plate that will cause a non-uniform distribution.2) For steady flow.1 Control volume for boundary layer flow The continuity equation for the control volume: Mass flow rate entering the control volume through AB and BD (2. the horizontal and vertical components of velocity of the mainstream are Um and Vm respectively. It needs to be noted that the boundary layer line (denoted by b. 2. steady with a uniform mainstream pressure.3) 5 .be considered to be frictionless. in Fig 2.1) is not a streamline. z Fig. Von Karman Integral Momentum Equation Consider a control volume at location x downstream from the leading edge of the smooth flat plate. 2. the boundary layer thickness and velocity profile in the boundary layer can be calculated using the pressure distributions evaluated from the main flow pattern. The flow is assumed to be incompressible. The streamline (denoted by ψ in the same figure) intersects the boundary layer line. Once the main flow has been established.

8) 6 . 2.7) Momentum flux leaving the control volume through section BD (2.2) (2.4) Momentum flux entering the control volume through section AB (2.6) Momentum flux entering the control volume through section BD (2. Fig. 2.5) Momentum flux leaving the control volume through section CD (2.2 Control volume for momentum calculation The momentum equation for the control volume: The force acting on the control volume in the x-direction (Fig.

the momentum equation becomes δ δ dp* d   d   (2. turbulent or transition flow for steady state conditions. Eq. (2.11) −δ − τ W =  ∫ ρu 2 dz  − U m  ∫ ρudz  dx dx  0  dx  0   This is the von Karman integral momentum equation for the boundary layer of a steady flow over a smooth surface. Note that the integrals involving ρu and ρu2 are functions of the upper limit δ.10) simplifies to δ δ ∂   ∂   (2.3) into Eq. the partial derivative with respect to x is replaced by their total derivative. (2.9) is found in the continuity equation. (2.10). the last term on the RHS of (2.4) into Eq. the momentum equation gives δ δ ∂   ∆Fx = ∫ ρu 2 dz +  ∫ ρu 2 dz ∆x + (ρVm ∆x )U m 0 ∂x  0   δ (2. Hence.10) ∆Fx =  ∫ ρu dz ∆x − U m  ∫ ρudz ∆x 2 ∂x  0  ∂x  0  By substituting Eq. 7 . (2.9) − ∫ ρu 2 dz − (ρU m ∆δ )U m 0 δ ∂   =  ∫ ρu 2 dz ∆x + ρU m (Vm ∆x − U m ∆δ )  ∂x  0   continuity equation Upon closer scrutiny. (2. By substituting Eq. This equation is applicable to laminar. which is the boundary layer thickness and is a function only of x.9).For steady state conditions.

τ w = [ ∫ ρ [ u 2 . the boundary layer thickness can be estimated by (a) Using the pressure gradient in the x-direction of the flow outside the boundary layer (b) Using Newton's viscosity formula for τ W = µ (∂u / ∂z )W (c) Assuming some reasonable velocity profile of the flow inside the boundary layer. 3.6) = ρ U m2 A δ ∂x 8 .U m u ] dz ] dx 0 Velocity profiles within the boundary layer are assumed to be similar along the plate although the boundary thickness δ varies with x. U m µ  df (η )  ∂  2 1  (3.3.  df (η )  (3.11) and combining the RHS.1) .. 3. (2. then U m is essentially constant.e. Laminar Boundary Layer over a Smooth Flat Plate For the case of an incompressible. By substituting Eq.3)   = ρ U mδ ∫ [1 − f (η )] f (η )dη  δ  dη η =0 ∂x  0  By defining. The velocity profiles are assumed to be similar wherein u/um is expressed as some function of z/δ. Um µ B ∂δ (3.1. the von Karman integral momentum equation simplifies to: δ d (3.5) A = ∫ [1 − f (η )]f (η )dη 0 Eq. [This is the approach used in this module] If the pressure gradient is zero (i.2 into Eq. (3. Taking away the first term on the LHS of Eq. This means that u z (3.3) reduces to. steady laminar flow over a smooth flat plate.2) = f ( ) = f (η ) Um δ where η = z / δ for any x. dp / dx = 0 ).4) B=   dη  η =0 1 (3.

Further. (3.8) δ =     A   Re  ρU m x where Re = . Eq.Rearranging and integrating. (3. L F = ∫ τ W dx (3.6) becomes. from Eq. 1 (3. then const = 0 and  2B   x  (3.9) τ W = ρU m2 2 Re The total friction force on one side of the smooth flat plate between x = 0 and x = L for a unit width of the plate.7) µBx = ρU m Aδ 2 + const 2 With δ = 0 at the leading edge of the plate where x = 0.10) 0 = ρU m2 Aδ L 0 F= [2 ABρµU L] 3 m 9 .1) the wall shear stress is. µ δ d   τW =  ∫ ρ (U m − u )udz  dx  0  dδ = ρU m2 A dx  2 µB  1 −1 / 2 = ρU m2 A   x  ρU m A  2 AB (3.

the pressure gradient in the main stream is taken to be zero.. For the growth of the boundary layer over the flat plate.4. 10 . In other words. To overcome this problem and approximate the growth of a turbulent boundary layer over a flat plate.e. (i.e. ηt. is a property of the flow. The eddy viscosity can be different all over the flow and it is not readily determined. the eddy viscosity. δ δ dp* d   d   −δ − τ W =  ∫ ρu dz  − U m  2    ∫ ρudz  dx dx  0  dx  0  The steps involved are: (a) Determine the relationship between τ w and the friction factor f through the head loss relationship. Turbulent Boundary Layer over a Flat Plate In the case of the turbulent boundary layer.1) τ w = ( µ +η t )    ∂z  z =0 However.. link τ w and Re) (c) Assume a velocity profile within the boundary turbulent layer (d) Substitute the velocity profile and the τ w relationship into the integral momentum equation This approximate procedure will not involve the use of the eddy viscosity. some established facts about turbulent flow in circular pipes are used. link f and Re) to relate τw to the Reynolds number (i.e. link τ w and f) (b) Use an established relationship between f and Reynolds number (i.. certain approximations are used to solve the integral momentum equation for a turbulent boundary layer along a smooth flat plate. the shearing stress at the plate may be expressed by the following relationship:  ∂u  (4.

1. 11 .3) Substituting the Darcy equation for head loss in turbulent pipe into Eq. the momentum equation is: Rearranging the above equation to give the wall shear stress τw.2) where f is the friction factor and U is the mean velocity in the pipe. (4.Step (a) link τw and f Fig.1 Wall shear stress in a pipe For the control volume in the turbulent flow in a pipe (steady flow) as shown in Fig.4. (4.3). The wall shear stress in the pipe with steady flow is then given by (4. 4.

8Umax in a pipe.32    ν  Similarly. The choice of this is merely to illustrate the procedure and the 1/7th power also gives a reasonable representation of the velocity profile for turbulent flow.4) f = 0.5) = 0.6) τ W = 0. for the wall shear stress from Eq.Step (b) link f and Re. (4.2). However. ρfU 2 τW = 8 1/ 4 ρ  ν  = (0. It is now assumed that the velocity at the centreline of the pipe Umax can be taken also as the main stream velocity outside the boundary layer of the flat plate. and then τw and Re Blasius formula for f for smooth pipes is given by −1 / 4  UD  (4. There exists a very thin viscous sublayer in the turbulent boundary layer next to the pipe wall. 12 .0227 ρU 2   U mδ m  Step (c) assume a velocity profile The velocity profile within the turbulent boundary layer may be expressed by n u z 1 (4. so we take δ as the thickness of the turbulent boundary layer.32    ν  −1 / 4  1. This appears to fit the experimental results for Reynolds number between 3000 and 105.32    ν  where U is the mean velocity in the pipe and D is the diameter of the pipe.6U mδ  = 0.6U mδ  1/ 4  ν  (4.8U m )2 8  1.8U m D  f = 0.7) =  n= Um δ  7 It is important to acknowledge that there are other formulae for the velocity profile.32 )  (0. With this assumption.32    ν  −1 / 4  1. The viscous sublayer is very thin such that δs << δ and for practical reasons.6U m R  (4. Blasius formula becomes: −1 / 4  0. U ≈ 0.

8) with the wall shear stress relationship in Eq.374 Re −1 / 5 x Umx  The thickness of the turbulent boundary layer along a smooth flat plate varies as x 4 / 5 . 13 . 1/ 5  ν  (4.374   x4/5 Um  1/ 5 δ  ν  (4.) Step (d) substitute into the integral momentum equation Setting η = z / δ and putting dp / dx = 0 . Thus. (4. the integral momentum equation becomes: δ ∂ u (U m − u )dz ∂ x ∫0 τw = ρ ∂  2 1/ 7  ( ) 1 = ρ δU m ∫η 1 − η 1 / 7 dη  ∂x  0  7 dδ (4. In the viscous sublayer. In the laminar boundary layer. Thus. it is necessary to assume that the 1/7th power law applies down to z = δS.10) = 0. the turbulent boundary layer grows faster along x than the laminar case. the velocity profile is assumed to be linear and the shear stress is constant in the sublayer.0227 ρU  2  = ρ U m2  U mδ m  72 dx Integrating the above equation.(Note that the 1/7th power law for the velocity profile.8) τw = ρ U m2 72 dx Equating the above integral momentum equation in Eq.9) δ = 0.374  = 0. (4. the thickness varies as x 1 / 2 . du/dz = ∞ at z = 0.6) gives the turbulent boundary layer thickness along x with δ = 0 at x = 0: 1/ 4  ν  7 dδ 0.

Re between 3000 and 105).2): 0.072 ρU m L Re −1 / 5 2 The drag coefficient for a smooth flat plate in a turbulent flow (with the plate is parallel to the flow) is thus obtained by combining from Eq. The three equations for the drag coefficients in the different regimes are: 1. mainly for convenience rather than the curved surface area. (4.1. the projected circular area is used.1) 2 The area is the projected area to a plane normal to the flow or the area that contributes to the drag force. In the case of a sphere.58 14 . (4. the area is given by the length and breadth of the plate. The drag for unit width on both sides of the smooth plate is: L Drag force = 2 ∫ τ w dx 0 1/ 5  ν  (5. the wall shear stress function given by Blasius (i. the flow is two-dimensional and the unit breadth is usually taken.072 ρU L2 m   m  U L = 0..455 (Eq.072 Re −1 / 5 The above equations are valid only for the range in which Blasius resistance equation holds (i. C) CD = (log Re) 2.455 1700 (Eq.58 − (log Re) Re 0.6) and Eq. (5. Where the plate is set parallel to the flow and it is of infinite extent.e. Drag The drag force of an object immersed in a fluid stream of velocity Um and mass density ρ is defined using the drag coefficient CD.328 (Eq.5 ρU m2 2L two sides = 0.072 ρU m2 L Re −1 / 5 CD = (5.10)) may be used.3) 0.5.e.2) = 0.. In the case of the flat plate set perpendicular to the flow. To determine the drag coefficient on a smooth plate that is completely immersed in the fluid stream. Drag force = C D ρU m2 ( Area ) 1 (5. B) CD = 2. combining Eq. The relationships between the drag coefficient and Reynolds number in different flow regimes are shown in Figure 5. A) CD = Re 0. (5.1) and Eq.

C) CD (Eq. demonstrating the effects of vehicle body shapes on aerodynamic drag. A) Re=UmL/v Fig. 15 .3 respectively show the drag coefficient plotted as a function of the Reynolds number for axisymmetric and two-dimensional bodies. 5. the diameter of the sphere/cylinder is the representative length dimension. 5.4 lists the drag coefficients for different vehicles. 5. B) (Eq.1 Drag coefficients for smooth flat plates (Finnermore and Franzini) Fig.2 and Fig. (Eq. The representative length dimension for use with the Reynolds number is also indicated in the figures. Figure 5. For example.

5. 5. CD=24/R Re=UmD/v Fig.2 Drag coefficients for axisymmetric bodies (Finnermore and Franzini) Re=UmD/v Fig.3 Drag coefficients for two-dimensional bodies (Finnermore and Franzini) 16 .

5.4 Drag coefficients for different vehicles (Finnermore and Franzini) 17 .Fig.

6.1 with the mainstream pressure increasing in the downstream direction giving an adverse pressure gradient. 6. The drag on the flat plate which is aligned parallel to the flow was entirely on the shearing resistance at the plate and is termed the skin friction drag. The boundary layer thickens rapidly. The wake represents the zone where strong eddy motions exist. The point of separation on the wall surface represents the location where the velocity profile shows an inflexion point at the wall.2 Flow past a plate 18 . The effect of separation is the incomplete pressure recovery leading to more flow losses (pressure drag). The points of separation at the edge of the plate are now fixed. the drag on an immersed object consists of both skin friction drag and pressure drag and separation occurs only when there is an adverse pressure gradient from the main flow. fluid in the boundary layer near the wall come to rest and the boundary streamline separates from the wall giving a wake region with backflow as shown in Fig. Fig.2 shows the large wake region downstream of the body with a rectangular section set normal to the flow direction and where the drag is overwhelmingly pressure drag. Thus.6. For the curved surface with an adverse pressure gradient environment. in general. Imagine the situation when the flat plate is replaced by a curved surface shown in Fig.1.1 Flow separation over a curved surface Fig 6. 6. 6. the turbulent boundary layer grows and continues growing regardless of the length of the plate so long as the pressure gradient remains zero. Separation and Wakes Along the flat plate. Fig. Reduction of the wake reduces pressure drag. we have skin friction drag for the part before separation and pressure drag for the part where the wake exists. This adverse pressure gradient is accompanied by the decrease in the momentum in the boundary layer and after a sufficient distance downstream.

1) where f = frequency of shedding (cycles/sec).3(a). the separation points shift downstream resulting in a narrower wake and a sharp drop in the CD. Consider an infinitely long smooth circular cylinder aligned perpendicular to the flow. 6. forming the von Karman vortex street. Further increases in the Reynolds number will result in higher angular velocities of the eddies and higher rates of shear and dissipation into random turbulence. D = cylinder diameter.3 The wake downstream of a cylinder. 6. And when the laminar boundary layer separates.3 shows the variation of the drag with the Reynolds number. the eddies detach themselves alternately and get carried downstream by the flow. When Re is around 70 in Figure 6. This dimensionless number is called the Strouhal number. it may become turbulent.0) in Fig. The size of the wake depends on the location of the separation points. We note that the turbulent boundary can better survive an adverse pressure gradient than a laminar boundary layer. (a) (b) (c) Fig. the laminar boundary layer separates almost symmetrically from the cylinder forming a pair of standing eddies. At very low Reynolds number (Re<1. 6. The frequency with which the eddies shed from the cylinder can be found from the empirical equation (2. The streamlines come together further downstream of the eddies. the points of separation for a laminar boundary layer occur further upstream 19 . U = freestream velocity. drag is overwhelmingly due to skin friction and the flow clings to the cylinder all around it.3(b). When Re is around 5(105) to 3(106). As the Reynolds number increases (Re around 30) in Fig. Thus.3(c). 6. Fig. The alternate shedding of the eddies also results in an alternating lateral force on the cylinder.

It therefore reduces the pressure drag on the vehicle and increases gas efficiency. shifting the point of separation downstream and reducing the size of the wake.4 A vehicle wrap that is designed to reduce wake size and thus pressure drag (http://www.resulting in a fairly wide wake. Figure 6.4 introduces the design of a vehicle wrap that can trip a laminar boundary layer to turbulent.com/2009/01/coefficient-fastskinz/?awcom-0209) 20 .maxgladwell. Fig. 6.