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In physics and engineering, fluid dynamics is a subdiscipline of fluid mechanics that describes the flow of fluids—liquids and gases. It has several subdisciplines, including aerodynamics (the study of air and other gases in motion) and hydrodynamics (the study of liquids in motion). Fluid dynamics has a wide range of applications, including calculating forces and moments on aircraft, determining the mass flow rate of petroleum through pipelines, predicting weather patterns, understanding nebulae in interstellar space and modelling fission weapon detonation.
Fluid dynamics offers a systematic structure—which underlies these practical disciplines—that embraces empirical and semi-empirical laws derived from flow measurement and used to solve practical problems. The solution to a fluid dynamics problem typically involves the calculation of various properties of the fluid, such as flow velocity, pressure, density, and temperature, as functions of space and time.
Before the twentieth century, hydrodynamics was synonymous with fluid dynamics. This is still reflected in names of some fluid dynamics topics, like magnetohydrodynamics and hydrodynamic stability, both of which can also be applied to gases.
The foundational axioms of fluid dynamics are the conservation laws, specifically, conservation of mass, conservation of linear momentum, and conservation of energy (also known as First Law of Thermodynamics). These are based on classical mechanics and are modified in quantum mechanics and general relativity. They are expressed using the Reynolds transport theorem.
In addition to the above, fluids are assumed to obey the continuum assumption. Fluids are composed of molecules that collide with one another and solid objects. However, the continuum assumption assumes that fluids are continuous, rather than discrete. Consequently, it is assumed that properties such as density, pressure, temperature, and flow velocity are well-defined at infinitesimally small points in space and vary continuously from one point to another. The fact that the fluid is made up of discrete molecules is ignored.
For fluids that are sufficiently dense to be a continuum, do not contain ionized species, and have flow velocities small in relation to the speed of light, the momentum equations for Newtonian fluids are the Navier–Stokes equations—which is a non-linear set of differential equations that describes the flow of a fluid whose stress depends linearly on flow velocity gradients and pressure. The unsimplified equations do not have a general closed-form solution, so they are primarily of use in computational fluid dynamics. The equations can be simplified in several ways, all of which make them easier to solve. Some of the simplifications allow some simple fluid dynamics problems to be solved in closed form.[ citation needed ]
In addition to the mass, momentum, and energy conservation equations, a thermodynamic equation of state that gives the pressure as a function of other thermodynamic variables is required to completely describe the problem. An example of this would be the perfect gas equation of state:
where p is pressure, ρ is density, T the absolute temperature, while Ru is the gas constant and M is molar mass for a particular gas.
Three conservation laws are used to solve fluid dynamics problems, and maybe written in integral or differential form. The conservation laws may be applied to a region of the flow called a control volume. A control volume is a discrete volume in space through which fluid is assumed to flow. The integral formulations of the conservation laws are used to describe the change of mass, momentum, or energy within the control volume. Differential formulations of the conservation laws apply Stokes' theorem to yield an expression that may be interpreted as the integral form of the law applied to an infinitesimally small volume (at a point) within the flow.
Above, ρ is the fluid density, u is the flow velocity vector, and t is time. The left-hand side of the above expression is the rate of increase of mass within the volume and contains a triple integral over the control volume, whereas the right-hand side contains an integration over the surface of the control volume of mass convected into the system. Mass flow into the system is accounted as positive, and since the normal vector to the surface is opposite to the sense of flow into the system the term is negated. The differential form of the continuity equation is, by the divergence theorem:
In the above integral formulation of this equation, the term on the left is the net change of momentum within the volume. The first term on the right is the net rate at which momentum is convected into the volume. The second term on the right is the force due to pressure on the volume's surfaces. The first two terms on the right are negated since momentum entering the system is accounted as positive, and the normal is opposite the direction of the velocity u and pressure forces. The third term on the right is the net acceleration of the mass within the volume due to any body forces (here represented by fbody). Surface forces, such as viscous forces, are represented by Fsurf, the net force due to shear forces acting on the volume surface. The momentum balance can also be written for a moving control volume.
The following is the differential form of the momentum conservation equation. Here, the volume is reduced to an infinitesimally small point, and both surface and body forces are accounted for in one total force, F. For example, F may be expanded into an expression for the frictional and gravitational forces acting at a point in a flow.
All fluids are compressible to an extent; that is, changes in pressure or temperature cause changes in density. However, in many situations the changes in pressure and temperature are sufficiently small that the changes in density are negligible. In this case the flow can be modelled as an incompressible flow. Otherwise the more general compressible flow equations must be used.
Mathematically, incompressibility is expressed by saying that the density ρ of a fluid parcel does not change as it moves in the flow field, that is,
where D/Dt is the material derivative, which is the sum of local and convective derivatives. This additional constraint simplifies the governing equations, especially in the case when the fluid has a uniform density.
For flow of gases, to determine whether to use compressible or incompressible fluid dynamics, the Mach number of the flow is evaluated. As a rough guide, compressible effects can be ignored at Mach numbers below approximately 0.3. For liquids, whether the incompressible assumption is valid depends on the fluid properties (specifically the critical pressure and temperature of the fluid) and the flow conditions (how close to the critical pressure the actual flow pressure becomes). Acoustic problems always require allowing compressibility, since sound waves are compression waves involving changes in pressure and density of the medium through which they propagate.
All fluids, except superfluids, are viscous, meaning that they exert some resistance to deformation: neighbouring parcels of fluid moving at different velocities exert viscous forces on each other. The velocity gradient is referred to as a strain rate; it has dimensions T−1. Isaac Newton showed that for many familiar fluids such as water and air, the stress due to these viscous forces is linearly related to the strain rate. Such fluids are called Newtonian fluids. The coefficient of proportionality is called the fluid's viscosity; for Newtonian fluids, it is a fluid property that is independent of the strain rate.
Non-Newtonian fluids have a more complicated, non-linear stress-strain behaviour. The sub-discipline of rheology describes the stress-strain behaviours of such fluids, which include emulsions and slurries, some viscoelastic materials such as blood and some polymers, and sticky liquids such as latex, honey and lubricants.
The dynamic of fluid parcels is described with the help of Newton's second law. An accelerating parcel of fluid is subject to inertial effects.
The Reynolds number is a dimensionless quantity which characterises the magnitude of inertial effects compared to the magnitude of viscous effects. A low Reynolds number (Re ≪ 1) indicates that viscous forces are very strong compared to inertial forces. In such cases, inertial forces are sometimes neglected; this flow regime is called Stokes or creeping flow.
In contrast, high Reynolds numbers (Re ≫ 1) indicate that the inertial effects have more effect on the velocity field than the viscous (friction) effects. In high Reynolds number flows, the flow is often modeled as an inviscid flow, an approximation in which viscosity is completely neglected. Eliminating viscosity allows the Navier–Stokes equations to be simplified into the Euler equations. The integration of the Euler equations along a streamline in an inviscid flow yields Bernoulli's equation. When, in addition to being inviscid, the flow is irrotational everywhere, Bernoulli's equation can completely describe the flow everywhere. Such flows are called potential flows, because the velocity field may be expressed as the gradient of a potential energy expression.
This idea can work fairly well when the Reynolds number is high. However, problems such as those involving solid boundaries may require that the viscosity be included. Viscosity cannot be neglected near solid boundaries because the no-slip condition generates a thin region of large strain rate, the boundary layer, in which viscosity effects dominate and which thus generates vorticity. Therefore, to calculate net forces on bodies (such as wings), viscous flow equations must be used: inviscid flow theory fails to predict drag forces, a limitation known as the d'Alembert's paradox.
A commonly usedmodel, especially in computational fluid dynamics, is to use two flow models: the Euler equations away from the body, and boundary layer equations in a region close to the body. The two solutions can then be matched with each other, using the method of matched asymptotic expansions.
A flow that is not a function of time is called steady flow. Steady-state flow refers to the condition where the fluid properties at a point in the system do not change over time. Time dependent flow is known as unsteady (also called transient). Whether a particular flow is steady or unsteady, can depend on the chosen frame of reference. For instance, laminar flow over a sphere is steady in the frame of reference that is stationary with respect to the sphere. In a frame of reference that is stationary with respect to a background flow, the flow is unsteady.
Turbulent flows are unsteady by definition. A turbulent flow can, however, be statistically stationary. The random velocity field U(x, t) is statistically stationary if all statistics are invariant under a shift in time. : 75 This roughly means that all statistical properties are constant in time. Often, the mean field is the object of interest, and this is constant too in a statistically stationary flow.
Steady flows are often more tractable than otherwise similar unsteady flows. The governing equations of a steady problem have one dimension fewer (time) than the governing equations of the same problem without taking advantage of the steadiness of the flow field.
Turbulence is flow characterized by recirculation, eddies, and apparent randomness. Flow in which turbulence is not exhibited is called laminar. The presence of eddies or recirculation alone does not necessarily indicate turbulent flow—these phenomena may be present in laminar flow as well. Mathematically, turbulent flow is often represented via a Reynolds decomposition, in which the flow is broken down into the sum of an average component and a perturbation component.
It is believed that turbulent flows can be described well through the use of the Navier–Stokes equations. Direct numerical simulation (DNS), based on the Navier–Stokes equations, makes it possible to simulate turbulent flows at moderate Reynolds numbers. Restrictions depend on the power of the computer used and the efficiency of the solution algorithm. The results of DNS have been found to agree well with experimental data for some flows.
Most flows of interest have Reynolds numbers much too high for DNS to be a viable option, : 344 given the state of computational power for the next few decades. Any flight vehicle large enough to carry a human (L > 3 m), moving faster than 20 m/s (72 km/h; 45 mph) is well beyond the limit of DNS simulation (Re = 4 million). Transport aircraft wings (such as on an Airbus A300 or Boeing 747) have Reynolds numbers of 40 million (based on the wing chord dimension). Solving these real-life flow problems requires turbulence models for the foreseeable future. Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes equations (RANS) combined with turbulence modelling provides a model of the effects of the turbulent flow. Such a modelling mainly provides the additional momentum transfer by the Reynolds stresses, although the turbulence also enhances the heat and mass transfer. Another promising methodology is large eddy simulation (LES), especially in the guise of detached eddy simulation (DES)—which is a combination of RANS turbulence modelling and large eddy simulation.
There are a large number of other possible approximations to fluid dynamic problems. Some of the more commonly used are listed below.
While many flows (such as flow of water through a pipe) occur at low Mach numbers (subsonic flows), many flows of practical interest in aerodynamics or in turbomachines occur at high fractions of M = 1 (transonic flows) or in excess of it (supersonic or even hypersonic flows). New phenomena occur at these regimes such as instabilities in transonic flow, shock waves for supersonic flow, or non-equilibrium chemical behaviour due to ionization in hypersonic flows. In practice, each of those flow regimes is treated separately.
Reactive flows are flows that are chemically reactive, which finds its applications in many areas, including combustion (IC engine), propulsion devices (rockets, jet engines, and so on), detonations, fire and safety hazards, and astrophysics. In addition to conservation of mass, momentum and energy, conservation of individual species (for example, mass fraction of methane in methane combustion) need to be derived, where the production/depletion rate of any species are obtained by simultaneously solving the equations of chemical kinetics.
Magnetohydrodynamics is the multidisciplinary study of the flow of electrically conducting fluids in electromagnetic fields. Examples of such fluids include plasmas, liquid metals, and salt water. The fluid flow equations are solved simultaneously with Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism.
Relativistic fluid dynamics studies the macroscopic and microscopic fluid motion at large velocities comparable to the velocity of light.This branch of fluid dynamics accounts for the relativistic effects both from the special theory of relativity and the general theory of relativity. The governing equations are derived in Riemannian geometry for Minkowski spacetime.
The concept of pressure is central to the study of both fluid statics and fluid dynamics. A pressure can be identified for every point in a body of fluid, regardless of whether the fluid is in motion or not. Pressure can be measured using an aneroid, Bourdon tube, mercury column, or various other methods.
Some of the terminology that is necessary in the study of fluid dynamics is not found in other similar areas of study. In particular, some of the terminology used in fluid dynamics is not used in fluid statics.
The concepts of total pressure and dynamic pressure arise from Bernoulli's equation and are significant in the study of all fluid flows. (These two pressures are not pressures in the usual sense—they cannot be measured using an aneroid, Bourdon tube or mercury column.) To avoid potential ambiguity when referring to pressure in fluid dynamics, many authors use the term static pressure to distinguish it from total pressure and dynamic pressure. Static pressure is identical to pressure and can be identified for every point in a fluid flow field.
A point in a fluid flow where the flow has come to rest (that is to say, speed is equal to zero adjacent to some solid body immersed in the fluid flow) is of special significance. It is of such importance that it is given a special name—a stagnation point. The static pressure at the stagnation point is of special significance and is given its own name—stagnation pressure. In incompressible flows, the stagnation pressure at a stagnation point is equal to the total pressure throughout the flow field.
In a compressible fluid, it is convenient to define the total conditions (also called stagnation conditions) for all thermodynamic state properties (such as total temperature, total enthalpy, total speed of sound). These total flow conditions are a function of the fluid velocity and have different values in frames of reference with different motion.
To avoid potential ambiguity when referring to the properties of the fluid associated with the state of the fluid rather than its motion, the prefix "static" is commonly used (such as static temperature and static enthalpy). Where there is no prefix, the fluid property is the static condition (so "density" and "static density" mean the same thing). The static conditions are independent of the frame of reference.
Because the total flow conditions are defined by isentropically bringing the fluid to rest, there is no need to distinguish between total entropy and static entropy as they are always equal by definition. As such, entropy is most commonly referred to as simply "entropy".
In physics, the Navier–Stokes equations are certain partial differential equations which describe the motion of viscous fluid substances, named after French engineer and physicist Claude-Louis Navier and Anglo-Irish physicist and mathematician George Gabriel Stokes. They were developed over several decades of progressively building the theories, from 1822 (Navier) to 1842–1850 (Stokes).
The vorticity equation of fluid dynamics describes the evolution of the vorticity ω of a particle of a fluid as it moves with its flow; that is, the local rotation of the fluid. The governing equation is:
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical analysis and data structures to analyze and solve problems that involve fluid flows. Computers are used to perform the calculations required to simulate the free-stream flow of the fluid, and the interaction of the fluid with surfaces defined by boundary conditions. With high-speed supercomputers, better solutions can be achieved, and are often required to solve the largest and most complex problems. Ongoing research yields software that improves the accuracy and speed of complex simulation scenarios such as transonic or turbulent flows. Initial validation of such software is typically performed using experimental apparatus such as wind tunnels. In addition, previously performed analytical or empirical analysis of a particular problem can be used for comparison. A final validation is often performed using full-scale testing, such as flight tests.
In fluid dynamics, the Euler equations are a set of quasilinear partial differential equations governing adiabatic and inviscid flow. They are named after Leonhard Euler. In particular, they correspond to the Navier–Stokes equations with zero viscosity and zero thermal conductivity.
In fluid mechanics or more generally continuum mechanics, incompressible flow refers to a flow in which the material density is constant within a fluid parcel—an infinitesimal volume that moves with the flow velocity. An equivalent statement that implies incompressibility is that the divergence of the flow velocity is zero.
In fluid dynamics, d'Alembert's paradox is a contradiction reached in 1752 by French mathematician Jean le Rond d'Alembert. D'Alembert proved that – for incompressible and inviscid potential flow – the drag force is zero on a body moving with constant velocity relative to the fluid. Zero drag is in direct contradiction to the observation of substantial drag on bodies moving relative to fluids, such as air and water; especially at high velocities corresponding with high Reynolds numbers. It is a particular example of the reversibility paradox.
Smoothed-particle hydrodynamics (SPH) is a computational method used for simulating the mechanics of continuum media, such as solid mechanics and fluid flows. It was developed by Gingold and Monaghan and Lucy in 1977, initially for astrophysical problems. It has been used in many fields of research, including astrophysics, ballistics, volcanology, and oceanography. It is a meshfree Lagrangian method, and the resolution of the method can easily be adjusted with respect to variables such as density.
Stokes flow, also named creeping flow or creeping motion, is a type of fluid flow where advective inertial forces are small compared with viscous forces. The Reynolds number is low, i.e. . This is a typical situation in flows where the fluid velocities are very slow, the viscosities are very large, or the length-scales of the flow are very small. Creeping flow was first studied to understand lubrication. In nature this type of flow occurs in the swimming of microorganisms, sperm and the flow of lava. In technology, it occurs in paint, MEMS devices, and in the flow of viscous polymers generally.
In fluid dynamics, drag is a force acting opposite to the relative motion of any object moving with respect to a surrounding fluid. This can exist between two fluid layers or between a fluid and a solid surface. Unlike other resistive forces, such as dry friction, which are nearly independent of velocity, the drag force depends on velocity.
In fluid mechanics and hydraulics, open-channel flow is a type of liquid flow within a conduit with a free surface, known as a channel. The other type of flow within a conduit is pipe flow. These two types of flow are similar in many ways but differ in one important respect: open-channel flow has a free surface, whereas pipe flow does not.
Aeroacoustics is a branch of acoustics that studies noise generation via either turbulent fluid motion or aerodynamic forces interacting with surfaces. Noise generation can also be associated with periodically varying flows. A notable example of this phenomenon is the Aeolian tones produced by wind blowing over fixed objects.
Fluid mechanics is the branch of physics concerned with the mechanics of fluids and the forces on them. It has applications in a wide range of disciplines, including mechanical, aerospace, civil, chemical and biomedical engineering, geophysics, oceanography, meteorology, astrophysics, and biology.
In fluid mechanics, added mass or virtual mass is the inertia added to a system because an accelerating or decelerating body must move some volume of surrounding fluid as it moves through it. Added mass is a common issue because the object and surrounding fluid cannot occupy the same physical space simultaneously. For simplicity this can be modeled as some volume of fluid moving with the object, though in reality "all" the fluid will be accelerated, to various degrees.
Inviscid flow is the flow of an inviscid fluid, in which the viscosity of the fluid is equal to zero. Though there are limited examples of inviscid fluids, known as superfluids, inviscid flow has many applications in fluid dynamics. The Reynolds number of inviscid flow approaches infinity as the viscosity approaches zero. When viscous forces are neglected, such as the case of inviscid flow, the Navier–Stokes equation can be simplified to a form known as the Euler equation. This simplified equation is applicable to inviscid flow as well as flow with low viscosity and a Reynolds number much greater than one. Using the Euler equation, many fluid dynamics problems involving low viscosity are easily solved, however, the assumed negligible viscosity is no longer valid in the region of fluid near a solid boundary or, more generally in regions with large velocity gradients which are evidently accompanied by viscous forces.
The intent of this article is to highlight the important points of the derivation of the Navier–Stokes equations as well as its application and formulation for different families of fluids.
Pressure-correction method is a class of methods used in computational fluid dynamics for numerically solving the Navier-Stokes equations normally for incompressible flows.
Volume viscosity is a material property relevant for characterizing fluid flow. Common symbols are or . It has dimensions, and the corresponding SI unit is the pascal-second (Pa·s).
In fluid dynamics, hydrodynamic stability is the field which analyses the stability and the onset of instability of fluid flows. The study of hydrodynamic stability aims to find out if a given flow is stable or unstable, and if so, how these instabilities will cause the development of turbulence. The foundations of hydrodynamic stability, both theoretical and experimental, were laid most notably by Helmholtz, Kelvin, Rayleigh and Reynolds during the nineteenth century. These foundations have given many useful tools to study hydrodynamic stability. These include Reynolds number, the Euler equations, and the Navier–Stokes equations. When studying flow stability it is useful to understand more simplistic systems, e.g. incompressible and inviscid fluids which can then be developed further onto more complex flows. Since the 1980s, more computational methods are being used to model and analyse the more complex flows.
The Reynolds number helps predict flow patterns in different fluid flow situations. At low Reynolds numbers, flows tend to be dominated by laminar (sheet-like) flow, while at high Reynolds numbers flows tend to be turbulent. The turbulence results from differences in the fluid's speed and direction, which may sometimes intersect or even move counter to the overall direction of the flow. These eddy currents begin to churn the flow, using up energy in the process, which for liquids increases the chances of cavitation. Reynolds numbers are an important dimensionless quantity in fluid mechanics.
In fluid mechanics, non-dimensionalization of the Navier–Stokes equations is the conversion of the Navier–Stokes equation to a nondimensional form. This technique can ease the analysis of the problem at hand, and reduce the number of free parameters. Small or large sizes of certain dimensionless parameters indicate the importance of certain terms in the equations for the studied flow. This may provide possibilities to neglect terms in the considered flow. Further, non-dimensionalized Navier–Stokes equations can be beneficial if one is posed with similar physical situations – that is problems where the only changes are those of the basic dimensions of the system.