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# MAE 5130: VISCOUS FLOWS

## Stokes 1st and 2nd Problems

Comments from Section 3-5
October 21, 2010
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department
Florida Institute of Technology
D. R. Kirk

## COMMENTS ON SECTION 3-5: STOKES 1st PROBLEM

Stokes first problem or the Rayleigh problem: Impulsively started flat plate
Analogous to a conducting solid whose bottom plane is suddenly changed to a different
temperature
At first particles near wall are accelerated by an imbalance of shear forces
As time proceeds, this effect is felt farther and farther from plate, inducing more and more
fluid to move along with plate
Examining y-direction momentum equation shows that pressure is not a function of x
Density, , and absolute viscosity, , do not enter problem independently, but only in
combination =/, which is kinematic viscosity. We will continue to see through this
course that is a much more important parameter in fluid mechanics than absolute viscosity
(except in low-Reynolds number flows).
Heat or diffusion equation is parabolic. Proper conditions to prescribe parabolic equations:
An initial condition for all space
Boundary conditions at two positions in space for all time
Solution is an example of a similarity solution. A similarity solution is one where the
number of independent variables in a PDE is reduced by one
If choice of a trail similarity variable does not produce an ODE, trail is unsuccessful
Even if similarity variable is found for a PDE, must also make boundary conditions on
original problem transform so that new problem makes physical sense

## ADDITIONAL COMMENTS ON SECTION 3-5: STOKES 1 st PROBLEM

Velocity profile shows that influence of plate extends to infinity immediately after plate
starts moving
At large distances error function vanishes exponentially (actually, erf( ~ -1exp(-2) as
), but there is still a minute viscous influence through out flow. This can be rationalized
influence at infinity by considering molecular model of gas viscosity. Molecules that collide
with plate absorb some extra momentum before returning to fluid. Although for most part,
molecules collide with other molecules several times before getting very far from plate, in
principle, there is some possibility (probability) of molecules traveling to infinity without a
collision.
Diffusion:
Slows as time goes on
Depends on kinematic (not the absolute) viscosity
Independent of plate velocity
Rayleigh problem also applies to flow above a stationary plate when fluid is started
impulsively with a uniform velocity. Solutions are related by a Galilean transformation
History:
Mathematical solution to this problem was first given by Stokes (1851), but now more
often called Rayleigh problem because Rayleigh (1911) used result in a creative way to
derive a skin friction law

## STOKES 1st PROBLEM, 3-5: IMPULSIVELY STARTED FLAT PLATE

Plates effect diffuses into fluid at a rate proportional to square root of kinematic viscosity
Define shear layer thickness, , as point where wall effect on fluid has dropped to 1%
u/Vw = 0.01, ~ 3.64(t)
Example:
Diffusion length after 1 min for water ~ 2.8 cm ( ~ 0.010 cm2/s)
Diffusion length after 1 min for air ~ 10.8 cm ( ~ 0.150 cm2/s)
In terms of viscous diffusion, air is more viscous than water by a factor of about 10

## In general diffusion is a slow process

Compare: Boeing 747 flying at 500 MPH, particle travels from nose to tail in s

Y
Y

U exp
sin T

2
2

t y
u U 0 exp y
sin

2
2

## Can also develop expression for transient

for a Stokes oscillating plate
Requires detailed understanding of
complex variables

Y
Y

U exp
sin T

2
2

t y
u U 0 exp y
sin

2
2

## The first exponential term provides a damping in the y-direction

Note that the depth at which the viscosity makes itself felt is proportional to , just as
it was in Stokes 1st problem
The second term exhibits a wave-like behavior, with an apparent wave velocity of 2
This interpretation is tied up in the oscillating boundary condition
The physical process that is occurring is viscous diffusion, and Stokes 2 nd problem
does not have a physical wave velocity, although we could trace the depth of
penetration of the diffusion effect as a function of time
Note how the effect of the wall motion is delayed
When wall reverses its motion and generates a net shear in the opposite direction, say
at T=/2, a net acceleration force from viscosity still exists deeper in fluid, say at Y=2.
Only after some time delay does the net shear force within the fluid change sign and
begin to decelerate the fluid.