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Reynolds experiment and flow regimes


At the end of the nineteenth century, unification between experimental hydraulics and theoretical hydrodynamics finally began. William Froude (1810–1879) and his son Robert (1846–1924) developed laws of model testing, Lord Rayleigh (1842–1919) proposed the technique of dimensional analysis, and Osborne Reynolds (1842–1912) published the classic pipe experiment in 1883 which showed the importance of the dimensionless Reynolds number named after him. Meanwhile, viscous-flow theory was available but unexploited, since Navier (1785–1836) and Stokes (1819–1903) had successfully added newtonian viscous terms to the equations of motion. The resulting Navier-Stokes equations were too difficult to analyze for arbitrary flows. Then, in 1904, a German engineer, Ludwig Prandtl (1875–1953), published perhaps the most important paper ever written on fluid mechanics. Prandtl pointed out that fluid flows with small viscosity, e.g., water flows and airflows, can be divided into a thin viscous layer, or boundary layer, near solid surfaces and interfaces, patched onto a nearly inviscid outer layer, where the Euler and Bernoulli equations apply. Boundary-layer theory has proved to be the single most important tool in modern flow analysis. The twentiethcentury foundations for the present state of the art in fluid mechanics were laid in a series of broad-based experiments and theories by Prandtl and his two chief friendly competitors, Theodore von Kármán (1881–1963) and Sir Geoffrey I. Taylor (1886–1975).

Stampa Stampa

Michele Mossa
Professor of Hydraulics at the
Polytechnic University of Bari
Department of Civil, Environmental, Land, Building Engineering and Chemistry
Via E. Orabona, 4 - 70125 Bari - ITALY


Coastal Engineering Laboratory
Area Universitaria di Valenzano
Strada Provinciale
Valenzano - Casamassima, Km 3, 70010 Valenzano, BARI- ITALY