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In fluid dynamics, laminar flow is characterized by fluid particles following smooth paths in layers, with each layer moving smoothly past the adjacent layers with little or no mixing.[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 occurs at lower velocities, below a threshold at which the flow becomes turbulent. The velocity is determined by a dimensionless parameter characterizing the flow called the Reynolds number, which also depends on the viscosity and density of the fluid and dimensions of the channel. Turbulent flow is a less orderly flow regime that is characterized by eddies or small packets of fluid particles, which result in lateral mixing.[2] In non-scientific terms, laminar flow is smooth, while turbulent flow is rough.

Relationship with the Reynolds number

A sphere in Stokes flow, at very low Reynolds number. An object moving through a fluid experiences a drag force in the direction opposite to its motion.

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 is flow through a pipe, where the Reynolds number is defined as

turbulent flow. Laminar flow occurs at lower velocities, below a threshold at which the flow becomes turbulent. The velocity is determined by a dimensionless parameter characterizing the flow called the Reynolds number, which also depends on the viscosity and density of the fluid and dimensions of the channel. Turbulent flow is a less orderly flow regime that is characterized by eddies or small packets of fluid particles, which result in lateral mixing.[2] In non-scientific terms, laminar flow is smooth, while turbulent flow is rough.

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 is flow through a pipe, where the Reynolds number is defined as

flow through a pipe, where the Reynolds number is defined as

where:

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 = μ/ρ (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 transition range is typically between 1,800 and 2,100.[4]

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 as vortex shedding, occur with higher Reynolds numbers.

ExamplesFor such systems, laminar flow occurs when the Reynolds number is below a critical value of approximately 2,040, though the transition range is typically between 1,800 and 2,100.[4]

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 as vortex shedding, occur with higher Reynolds numbers.

Examples

In the case of a moving plate in a liquid, it is found that there is a layer (lamina) that moves with the plate, and a layer next to any stationary

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 as vortex shedding, occur with higher Reynolds numbers.

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.

See also

References

  1. ^ Streeter, V.L. (1951-1966) Fluid Mechanics, Section 3.3 (4th edition). McGraw-Hill
  2. ^ a b Geankoplis, Christie John (2003). Transport Processes and Separation Process Principles. Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference. ISBN 978-0-13-101367-4. Archived from the original on 2015-05-01.
  3. ^ Noakes, Cath; Sleigh, Andrew (January 2009). "Real Fluids". An Introduction to Fluid Mechanics. University of Leeds. Archived from the original 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". Science. 333 (6039): 192–196. Bibcode:2011Sci...333..192A. doi:10.1126/science.1203223. PMID 21737736.
  5. ^ Nave, R. (2005). "Laminar Flow". HyperPhysics. Georgia State University. Archived 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. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-66955-3.
  7. ^ Rogers, D. F. (1992). Laminar flow analysis. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-41152-1.