DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAMINAR AND TURBULENT FLOW


If the flow is smooth and if the layers in the flow do not mix macroscopically then the flow is called laminar flow. For example a dye injected at a point in laminar flow will travel along a continuous smooth line without generally mixing with the main body of the fluid.

Momentum, heat and mass transfer between layers will be at molecular level of pure diffusion. In laminar
flow layers will glide over each other without mixing.

In turbulent flow fluid layers mix macroscopically and the velocity/temperature/mass concentration at any point is found to vary with reference to a mean value over a time period.

For example u = u + u′ where u is the velocity at an instant at a location and u is the average velocity over a period of time at that location and u′ is the fluctuating component. This causes higher rate of momentum/heat/mass transfer.

A dye injected into such a flow will not flow along a smooth line but will mix with the main stream within a short distance.

The difference between the flows can be distinguished by observing the smoke coming out of an incense stick. The smoke in still air will be found to rise along a vertical line without mixing.

This is the laminar region. At a distance which will depend on flow conditions the smoke will be found to mix with the air as the flow becomes turbulent.

Laminar flow will prevail when viscous forces are larger than inertia forces. Turbulence will begin where inertia forces begin to increase and become higher than viscous forces.

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