We'll start with fluid flowing between two parallel plates, separated by H meters and infinite in the z-direction. (Note: infinite plates do not exist, but this consideration allows us to approximate the flow as 2D instead of 3D). We will consider the pressure driven flow case where both plates are stationary (I), as well as the Couette Flow case where the upper plate moves in the +x-direction with some velocity U m/s (II).

Given: gap height = H meters

Find: the flow field description (u, v, w, and p)

Assumptions: steady, laminar, incompressible, infinite plates (w = 0, d/dz(...) = 0), constant properties, ignore edge effects, Newtonian fluid, fully developed (d/dx(...) = 0)

Solution:

Step 1: We must first apply the continuity equation.

d/dt(rho) + d/dx(rho*u) + d/dy(rho*v) + d/dz(rho*w) = 0

Since the flow is steady (or because it's incompressible), the first term is equal to zero. For fully developed, laminar flow, d/dx(rho*u) = 0; for infinite plates, d/dz(rho*w) = 0. Because the fluid is incompressible, rho can be pulled out of the derivative in the remaining term. Thus, we are left with:

rho*d/dy(v) = 0 or d/dy(v) = 0

Step 2: Next, we simplify the Navier Stokes equations.
Since the derivative of v is equal to zero, that means that v must be constant (found by integrating both sides of the above equation):

But we know that because we are dealing with a viscous fluid, the no-slip condition holds. This tells us that the fluid adjacent to either plate has the same velocity as the plate; therefore, since the bottom plate is fixed in both cases, u = v = w = 0 at this location. Putting this boundary information with the result from the continuity equation, v = 0 throughout the domain.

v = const

But we know that because we are dealing with a viscous fluid, the no-slip condition holds. This tells us that the fluid adjacent to either plate has the same velocity as the plate; therefore, since the bottom plate is fixed in both cases, u = v = w = 0 at this location. Putting this boundary information with the result from the continuity equation, v = 0 throughout the domain.

x-momentum:

rho*[d/dt(u) + u*d/dx(u) + v*d/dy(u) + w*d/dz(u)] = -d/dx(p) + rho*gx + mu*[d/dx(d/dx(u)) + d/dy(d/dy(u)) + d/dz(d/dz(u))]

d/dt(u) = 0 since the flow is steady; d/dx(u) = 0 since the flow is fully developed; d/dy(u) = d/dz(u) = 0 because the flow is laminar; thus, the entire left side of the equation equals zero for this case. On the right-hand side, rho*gx = 0 because gravity only acts in the downward (-y) direction; d/dx(d/dx(u)) = 0 also because the flow is fully developed; d/dz(d/dz(u)) = 0 since we are dealing with infinite plates. Rearranging the two terms that are left, we have:

d/dx(p) = mu*d/dy(d/dy(u))

y-momentum:

rho*[d/dt(v) + u*d/dx(v) + v*d/dy(v) + w*d/dz(v)] = -d/dy(p) + rho*gy + mu*[d/dx(d/dx(v)) + d/dy(d/dy(v)) + d/dz(d/dz(v))]

From the result of our continuity equation examination, we know that all the terms containing a v must be equal to zero. We can quickly see that we are only left with two terms:

d/dy(p) = rho*gy

When both sides of this equation are integrated, we obtain the hydrostatic pressure distribution.

z-momentum:

rho*[d/dt(w) + u*d/dx(w) + v*d/dy(w) + w*d/dz(w)] = -d/dz(p) + rho*gz + mu*[d/dx(d/dx(w)) + d/dy(d/dy(w)) + d/dz(d/dz(w))]

Because our flow is laminar, all terms containing a w or d/dz(...) are equal to zero. Also, we know that the term rho*gz = 0, since gravity is only acting in the downward (-y) direction. This equation quickly reduces to:

0 = 0

Step 3: Then we integrate the reduced Navier-Stokes equations and solve for the unknowns.

z-momentum:

0 = 0 tells us nothing

y-momentum:

p = -rho*gy*y + fp(x)

essentially the hydrostatic pressure distribution, the integration constant in this case, fp(x), is constant in the y direction, but may be a function of x

essentially the hydrostatic pressure distribution, the integration constant in this case, fp(x), is constant in the y direction, but may be a function of x

x-momentum:

(1/mu)*d/dx(p) = d/dy(d/dy(u)) rearranging

(1/mu)*d/dx(p)*y + const1 = d/dy(u) integrating once

(0.5/mu)*d/dx(p)*y*y + const2 = u integrating twice

(1/mu)*d/dx(p)*y + const1 = d/dy(u) integrating once

(0.5/mu)*d/dx(p)*y*y + const2 = u integrating twice

We now have an expression for each of the variables necessary for a full flow field description (v = 0, w = 0, p = ..., u = ...). To completely finish the problem, we must examine our given boundary conditions to determine

Step 4 (I): We need two boundary conditions since there are two constants of integration that need to be determined. For this case, both plates are stationary; therefore, the no-slip condition tells us that u = 0 at y = 0 and u = 0 at y = H (if we consider the bottom plate to be located at y = 0). Applying the first yields:

const2 = 0

Applying the second gives:

const1 = -(0.5/mu)*d/dx(p)*H

So: u = (0.5/mu)*d/dx(p)*(y*y - H*y)

Step 4 (II): We again need two boundary conditions since there are two constants of integration that need to be determined. For this case, the bottom plate is stationary and the top plate is moving with constant velocity, U; therefore, the no-slip condition tells us that u = 0 at y = 0 and u = U at y = H (if we consider the bottom plate to be located at y = 0). Applying the first yields:

const2 = 0

Applying the second gives:

const1 = -(0.5/mu)*d/dx(p)*H + U/H

So: u = (0.5/mu)*d/dx(p)*(y*y - H*y) + (U*y)/H

We can plot the velocity for both of these cases verses y for specified values of d/dx(p), U, mu, and H; this will give us the velocity distribution of the flow between the plates. Here you can see an animation of velocity profiles for various values of U and d/dx(p). If you'd like to play with this program yourself, you can download it (for free I think) from Wolfram Mathematics.

And that's the Navier Stokes equations in a nutshell! Like I mentioned last week, a lot of assumptions need to be made in order to obtain a version of these equations that we can work with; however, once these have been made, the resulting forms of the equations can be solved rather simply.

If you're feeling extra adventurous, try to go through the procedure again by yourself, examining what the velocity profile looks like for the case where the top plate is moving and bottom one is stationary or one plate is moving in the +x-direction and one is moving in the -x-direction or both plates are moving in the +x-direction at the same speed and at different speeds.

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