You are on page 1of 3

# Laminar flow

In fluid dynamics, laminar flow (or streamline flow) occurs when a fluid flows in parallel
layers, with no disruption between the layers.[1] At low velocities, the fluid tends to flow
without lateral mixing, and adjacent layers slide past one another like playing cards. There are
no cross-currents perpendicular to the direction of flow, nor eddies or swirls of fluids.[2] In
laminar flow, the motion of the particles of the fluid is very orderly with particles close to a
solid surface moving in straight lines parallel to that surface.[3] Laminar flow is a flow regime
characterized by high momentum diffusion and low momentum convection.

When a fluid is flowing through a closed channel such as a pipe or between two flat plates,
either of two types of flow may occur depending on the velocity and viscosity of the fluid:
laminar flow or turbulent flow. Laminar flow tends to occur at lower velocities, below a
threshold at which it becomes turbulent. Turbulent flow is a less orderly flow regime that is
characterised by eddies or small packets of fluid particles, which result in lateral mixing.[2] In
non-scientific terms, laminar flow issmooth, while turbulent flow isrough. A sphere in Stokes flow, at
very low Reynolds number.
An object moving through a
fluid experiences a drag
Contents force in the direction
opposite to its motion.
Relationship with the Reynolds number
Examples
Laminar flow barriers
References

## Relationship with the Reynolds number

The type of flow occurring in a fluid in a channel is important in fluid-dynamics problems and subsequently affects heat and mass
transfer in fluid systems. The dimensionless Reynolds number is an important parameter in the equations that describe whether fully
developed flow conditions lead to laminar or turbulent flow. The Reynolds number is the ratio of the inertial force to the shearing
force of the fluid: how fast the fluid is moving relative to how viscous it is, irrespective of the scale of the fluid system. Laminar flow
generally occurs when the fluid is moving slowly or the fluid is very viscous. As the Reynolds number increases, such as by
increasing the flow rate of the fluid, the flow will transition from laminar to turbulent flow at a specific range of Reynolds numbers,
the laminar–turbulent transition range depending on small disturbance levels in the fluid or imperfections in the flow system. If the
Reynolds number is very small, much less than 1, then the fluid will exhibit Stokes, or creeping, flow, where the viscous forces of the
fluid dominate the inertial forces.

The specific calculation of the Reynolds number, and the values where laminar flow occurs, will depend on the geometry of the flow
system and flow pattern. The common example isflow through a pipe, where the Reynolds number is defined as

where:

## D is the hydraulic diameter of the pipe (m);

DH is the hydraulic diameter of the pipe (m);
Q is the volumetric flow rate (m3/s);
A is the pipe's cross-sectional area (m2);
u is the mean speed of the fluid (SI units: m/s);
μ is the dynamic viscosity of the fluid (Pa·s = N·s/m2 = kg/(m·s));
ν is the kinematic viscosity of the fluid, ν = μρ (m2/s);
ρ is the density of the fluid (kg/m3).
For such systems, laminar flow occurs when the Reynolds number is below a critical value of approximately 2,040, though the
[4]
transition range is typically between 1,800 and 2,100.

For fluid systems occurring on external surfaces, such as flow past objects suspended in the fluid, other definitions for Reynolds
numbers can be used to predict the type of flow around the object. The particle Reynolds number Rep would be used for particle
suspended in flowing fluids, for example. As with flow in pipes, laminar flow typically occurs with lower Reynolds numbers, while
turbulent flow and related phenomena, such asvortex shedding, occur with higher Reynolds numbers.

Examples
A common application of laminar flow is in
the smooth flow of a viscous liquid through a
tube or pipe. In that case, the velocity of flow
varies from zero at the walls to a maximum
along the cross-sectional centre of the vessel. In the case of a moving plate in a
The velocity profile
liquid, it is found that there is a layer
associated with laminar The flow profile of laminar flow in a tube can
(lamina) that moves with the plate,
flow resembles a deck of be calculated by dividing the flow into thin and a layer next to any stationary
cards. This flow profile of a
cylindrical elements and applying the viscous plate that is stationary.
fluid in a pipe shows that
force to them.[5]
the fluid acts in layers that
slide over one another.
Another example is the flow of air over an aircraft wing. The boundary layer is a very thin
sheet of air lying over the surface of the wing (and all other surfaces of the aircraft). Because
air has viscosity, this layer of air tends to adhere to the wing. As the wing moves forward through the air, the boundary layer at first
flows smoothly over the streamlined shape of the airfoil. Here, the flow is laminar and the boundary layer is a laminar layer. Prandtl
[6][7]
applied the concept of the laminar boundary layer to airfoils in 1904.

## Laminar flow barriers

Laminar airflow is used to separate volumes of air, or prevent airborne contaminants
from entering an area. Laminar flow hoods are used to exclude contaminants from
sensitive processes in science, electronics and medicine. Air curtains are frequently
used in commercial settings to keep heated or refrigerated air from passing through
doorways. A laminar flow reactor (LFR) is a reactor that uses laminar flow to study
chemical reactions and process mechanisms.

Play media
Chaos theory Experimental chamber for studying
Laminar flow reactor chemotaxis in response to laminar
Shell balance flow.

References
1. Batchelor, G. (2000). Introduction to Fluid Mechanics.
2. Geankoplis, Christie John (2003).Transport Processes and Separation ProcessPrinciples (http://www.pearsonhighe
red.com/educator/product/Transport-Processes-and-Separation-Process-Principles-Includes-Unit-Operations/97801
31013674.page). Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference. ISBN 978-0-13-101367-4. Archived (https://web.ar
chive.org/web/20150501122109/http://www .pearsonhighered.com/educator/product/Transport-Processes-and-Separ
ation-Process-Principles-Includes-Unit-Operations/9780131013674.page) from the original on 2015-05-01.
3. Noakes, Cath; Sleigh, Andrew (January 2009)."Real Fluids" (https://web.archive.org/web/20101021003853/http://w
ww.efm.leeds.ac.uk/CIVE/CIVE1400/Section4/laminar_turbulent.htm). An Introduction to Fluid Mechanics. University
of Leeds. Archived fromthe original (http://www.efm.leeds.ac.uk/CIVE/CIVE1400/Section4/laminar_turbulent.htm)on
21 October 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
4. Avila, K.; Moxey, D.; de Lozar, A.; Avila, M.; Barkley, D.; Hof, B. (July 2011)."The Onset of Turbulence in Pipe Flow"
(http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6039/192). Science. 333 (6039): 192–196. Bibcode:2011Sci...333..192A (ht
03223). Archived (https://web.archive.org/web/20110904003951/http://www .sciencemag.org/content/333/6039/192)
from the original on 2011-09-04.
5. Nave, R. (2005). "Laminar Flow" (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/pfric.html). HyperPhysics. Georgia
State University. Archived (https://web.archive.org/web/20110219090625/http://hyperphysics.phy-astr .gsu.edu/hbas
e/pfric.html) from the original on 19 February 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
6. Anderson, J. D. (1997).A History of Aerodynamics and Its Impact on Flying Machines(https://books.google.com/boo
ks?isbn=0521669553). Cambridge University Press.ISBN 0-521-66955-3.
7. Rogers, D. F. (1992). Laminar flow analysis (https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0521411521)
. Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 0-521-41152-1.