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Experimental Methods

in Fluid Mechanics

Dr. Parviz Merati


Department of Mechanical and Aerospcae


l Atmospheric boundary layer

l Jet streams in the upper atmosphere
l Cumulus clouds
l Water currents below the surface of the ocean
l Wake of the earth in the solar wind
l Boundary layers on wings of an aircraft
l Combustion
l Flow of natural oil and gas in pipelines
l Used for mixing to accelerate chemical reaction rates in
liquids and gases

l Wake of ships, cars, submarines and aircraft

l Laminar flow is usually an exception, not the rule,
happens only for small dimensions and fluids with
high viscosity (lubricating oil in bearings)
Nature of Turbulence

l Flow quantities (velocity, pressure, temperature)

have randomly fluctuating components-irregular
in space and time. This makes it impossible to
describe turbulence deterministically, instead must
be described statistically
l Mixing-Turbulent flows mix or diffuse quantities
such as concentration, heat and momentum
rapidly. Not all random flows do this, like
contrails of a jet aircraft having a very nearly
constant diameter for long distances
Nature of Turbulence

l Large Reynolds number-An essential

characteristic of a turbulence is the dominance of
non-linear inertial interactions in the flow. These
require large Re. Flow is usually laminar up to
some Re at which the nonlinear effects combine
with viscous effects to cause instability and finally
Nature of Turbulence

l Fluctuating, 3-D vorticity-Turbulence is a fully 3

dimensional phenomeneon and essentially
rotational. Models assuming complete
irrotationality and or 1 or 2 dimensionality cannot
fully describe turbulence. In fact, they sometimes
give completely erroneous results, 3-D vortex
stretching is essential in turbulence
Nature of Turbulence

l Dissipation-Turbulence always dissipates

significant amounts of mechanical energy into
heat via viscous dissipation
l Continuum-Turbulence is a property of continuous
fluids. The smallest scales of turbulence are
usually much larger than the molecular length
scales. However, turbulence can also occur in
non-continuum fluids such as stellar and
interstellar gas
Nature of Turbulence

l Turbulence is a flow property and not a fluid

property. At large Reynolds numbers, it is the
geometry and the initial conditions that determine
the turbulence rather than the molecular
properties. Thus, any turbulent flow is different,
although there have been some common
characteristics in similar flows
Nature of Turbulence

l Turbulence theory suffers from absence of

powerful mathematical methods. This lack of
tools makes all theoretical approaches a trial and
error technique. Equations alone cannot solve
turbulence problems accurately, some
experimental verification is essential to validate
the mathematical or numerical methods.
Examples of Non-Turbulent Flows

l Flow in small blood vessels-randomly located, so

flow is random, mixing is high, but flow is not
turbulent because Re is too low
l Randomly generated accoustic waves, surface
waves, and gravity waves, flow is random but
irrotational and low Re, also very weakly
Methods Of Analysis

l No general approach to the solution of turbulent

l Impossible to make accurate quantitative
prediction without relying on empirical data
l Statistical approach leads to more unknown than
number of equations (3 equations with 10
unknowns, counting pressure), closure problem,
assumptions are made to provide adequate number
of equations (turbulence modeling)
Methods Of Analysis

l Equations do not give the entire story, we should have

enough understanding of the turbulence that we can make
reasonable assumptions to bridge the gap between the
equations and the actual flow
l There is a far better chance to come up with a reasonable
turbulence model than a theoretical solution
l The computers of the future might be so powerful that they
can resolve the smallest scale of turbulence (Kolmogorov
scale) for large regions of the turbulent flows using
Navier-Stokes equations
Methods Of Analysis

l Dimensional analysis is one of the most powerful

tools in the study of turbulence. It is possible to
describe some aspects of the turbulence structure
with a few independent variables or parameters.
With dimensional methods, relationships between
dependent and independent variables can be found
except for some numerical coefficients.
Origin of Turbulence

l For flows which are originally laminar, turbulence arises

from instabilities at large Re
l For pipe flow, Re= 2,000 is the critical Re
l Boundary layer in zero pressure gradient becomes unstable
at U */ = 600, where * is the displacement thickness &
U is the free stream velocity
l Free shear flows (mixing layer flows) become unstable at
very low Re due to inviscid instability mechanism that
does not hold in pipe and boundary layer layer flows.
Early stages of transition can be seen in the smoke rising
from a cigarette
Origin of Turbulence
l Turbulence cannot sustain itself and depends on its
environment to obtain energy, a common source is shear in
the mean flow
l Turbulent flows are usually shear flows
l If turbulence arrives in an environment where there is no
shear, it decays, Re decreases and flow becomes laminar,
an example is grid turbulence
l Mathematically the transition region is poorly understood,
mostly the theory is linear valid for small disturbances, it
cannot deal with large fluctuations in turbulent region
l All of the theory of turbulent flow is asymptotic, fairly
accurate at very large Re, but inaccurate at Re where
turbulence cannot maintain itself
Catastrophic Model

l Transition starts by simple instability wave which

is 2-D. This primary instability produces
secondary motion which are 3-D and becomes
unstable, a sequence of this nature generates
intense localized 3-D disturbances (turbulent spots
in the boundary layer) arriving at random
positions at random times. These spots grow
rapidly and merge with each other when they
become large and numerous to form a developed
turbulent flow
Diffusivity of Turbulence

l An outstanding characteristics of turbulence is to

transfer momentum, kinetic energy, heat, particles
and motion
l The rate of diffusion is several orders of
magnitude larger than the molecular diffusion
which happens in laminar flow
l Ratio of turbulent time scale to the molecular time
Tt 1

Tm Re
Length Scales in Turbulent Flows

l There are several length scales bounded by the dimensions

of the flow field and from below by the diffusive action of
molecular viscosity, this is why spectral analysis of
turbulent motion is important
l There are three length scales in turbulent flow, l viscous or
diffusive length scale responsible for the boundary layer
growth in the transverse direction, and L the convective
length scale (length of the flat plate), l usually much
smaller than L, and Kolmogorors length scale
corresponding to the smallest scales.
l 1
1/ 2
L Re
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Length Scales in Turbulent Flows

l Turbulent diffusion time scale is approximately

equal to the convective time scale
l L

u U
l Where l is the largest length scale of the
turbulence (largest energy containing eddies,
integral length scale), u is the magnitude of the
velocity fluctuations, U is the free stream velocity,
and L is the convective length scale
Length Scales in Turbulent Flows

Viscous effects prevent generation of infinitely

small scale of motion by dissipating small-scale
energy to heat. Even at large Re, the viscous
effects are important and cannot be neglected

L.F. Richardson
Big whirls create little whirls which feed
on their velocities, little whirls make
lesser whirls and so on to viscosity
Length Scales in Turbulent Flows

Kolmogorovs Universal Equilibrium Theory

The rate of energy supply from large scales

to the smallest scales of motion = The rate
of dissipation at the smallest scales through
3 .
Re = =1

microscales or inner

= Dissipation rate
( )1/4
per unit mass ( K .E . / mass . sec)
Length Scales in Turbulent Flows

l Large scale, energy containing motions (u,l) are

nearly inviscid for high Re number flows
l Viscosity does not disappear, however because the
larger scales breakdown to produce much smaller
scales of motion with smallest velocity and length
scales (, ), thus viscosity dominates the motion
on these scales and viscous dissipation occurs here
at a rate of , these are on the order of the smallest
scales and may be likened to internal boundary
Length Scales in Turbulent Flows

l Usually for large Reynolds number flows

U >> u >>
L >> l >>

l Much of our discussion of spectra will be directed

towards understanding these scales and the
process of creating their associated motions
Length Scales in Turbulent Flows

u u 3

u . =

l l
Using this relationship, the u,l and vel, scales can be
Pipe Flow
Re D = = 10 6
Rl3/4 U D
u 0.1U
Rl = l 0.1 D
U=10 m/sec,
Rl = 10 4
Rl1/4 If D=10 cm,
u 10 4 D
= 10-6 m2/sec