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# Practice Problems on Boundary Layers

## C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 1 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_01
A thin flat plate 55 by 110 cm is immersed in a 6 m/s stream of SAE 10 oil at 20 C. Compute the total skin friction
drag if the stream is parallel to (a) the long side and (b) the short side.

D =107 N
D =152 N

Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 2 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_02
Using the momentum integral theorem, determine the friction coefficient, c
f
, dimensionless boundary layer
momentum thickness, o
M
/x, and the dimensionless boundary layer displacement thickness, o
D
/x, for laminar flat
plate flow with no pressure gradient assuming a sinusoidal velocity profile:
sin
2
u y
U
t
o

(
~
(

1
2
4.7939
4.7939
Re
x
x Ux
o

= =
1
2
0.6553
Re
M
x
x
o
=
1
2
1.7420
Re
D
x
x
o
=
1
2
0.6553
Re
f
x
C =

Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 3 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_03
One method proposed to decrease drag and avoid boundary layer separation on aircraft is to use suction to remove
the low momentum fluid near the aircraft surface. By removing the low momentum fluid near the surface, the
boundary layer remains more stable and transition to a turbulent boundary layer is delayed. Only recently has this
method been attempted in practice (Aviation Week & Space Technology, Oct. 12, 1998, pg. 42). Airbus is currently
testing a micro-perforated titanium skin on an Airbus A320 aircraft fin. The ultimate goal of Airbus tests is to
reduce wing drag by 10-16% and empenage/nacelles drag by nearly 5%. Fuel consumption is expected to be
decreased by as much as 13%.

To analyze this flow, consider a laminar boundary layer on a porous flat plate. Fluid is removed through the plate at
a uniform velocity, V. The thickness of the boundary layer is denoted by o and the velocity outside the boundary
layer is a constant, U. Assuming that the velocity profile, u, is given by a power law expression (n is a positive
constant describing the shape of the profile and y is the vertical distance from the surface of the plate):

1
n u y
U o
| |
=
|
\ .

Determine:
1. the momentum thickness of the boundary layer in terms of o
2. the drag acting on the plate over a length L if the plate has a depth b into the page (express your answer in terms
of o
M
.)

( )( ) 1 2
M
n
n n
o o =
+ +

( ) ( )
2
1 2
n V L
D U b
n n U
o
o
(
= +
(
+ +
(

or
2
M
V
D U b L
U
o
| |
= +
|
\ .

U

fluid velocity through
porous plate, V
porous plate with depth, b, into
page
o
L
x
y
Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 4 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_04
A wind tunnel has a test section 1 m square by 6 m long with air at 20C moving at an average velocity of 30 m/s.
To account for the growing boundary layer, the walls are slanted slightly outward. At what angle should the walls
be slanted between x=2 m and x=4 m to keep the test-section velocity constant?

0.1 u =

Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 5 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_05
A thin smooth sign is attached to the side of a truck as shown. Estimate the skin friction drag on the sign when the
truck speed is 55 mph.

sign f
1.57 lb D =
GO BOILERS !!
5 ft
3 ft 20 ft
4 ft
Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 6 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_06
Flow straighteners are arrays of narrow ducts placed in wind tunnels to remove swirl and other in-plane secondary
velocities. They can be idealized as square boxes constructed by vertical and horizontal plates as shown in the
figure. The cross-section of the box is a by a and the box length is L. Assuming laminar flat plate flow and an array
of N by N boxes, derive a formula for:

a. the total drag on the bundle of boxes.
b. the effective pressure drop across the bundle.

( )
1
2
2 2
2
x cell
cells
2.656
Re
N N
L
U La N
D N D

= =
x cells
2 2
N N
D
p
N a

A =

a
a
L
flow direction
N boxes
N boxes
Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 7 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_10
A laminar boundary layer subjected to a favorable pressure gradient is to be approximated by a profile of the form:

2 3
3 3 0 1
1 1
y y y y
u
U
y
o o o o
o

| | | | | | | |
+ s s
| | | |

\ . \ . \ . \ .
=

| |
>
|

\ .

a. Using the Krmn Momentum Integral Equation, determine the differential equation which must be satisfied
by o(x) and U(x).
b. Show that if U(x)=cx
1/9
, the solution to this equation is of the form o(x)=Ax
4/9
.
c. Find A in terms of c and the kinematic viscosity, v.

Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 8 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_12
The working section of a water tunnel consists of a duct with a rectangular cross-section. The width of the cross-
section, b (perpendicular to the sketch), is constant but the height, h(x), may vary with longitudinal distance, x,
measured along the centerline of the duct:

Laminar boundary layers form on the upper and lower surfaces of the working section and would cause an
acceleration of the flow outside the layers if the height h were constant (A similar effect would be caused by the
front and back surfaces but we ignore this for the purposes of this problem and assume that there are no boundary
layers on the front and back surfaces.) A water tunnel designer wishes to select the function h(x) in order to ensure
that the pressure and velocity outside the boundary layer (say, on the centerline) vary with distance, x, in a specified
way. The designer decides to use functions of the form:
( )
0
k
h x h Hx = +
where h
0
, H, and k are constants and the boundary layers begin at x=0. Find the value of k which produces zero
longitudinal pressure gradient in the tunnel. Also find the expression for H in terms of b, the kinematic viscosity, v,
and the velocity of the flow at the centerline, U.

1
2
k = 2*1.72 3.44 H
U U
v v
= =

1
/
2
h(x)
1
/
2
h(x)
x
Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 9 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_15
Air, with a density of 1.23 kg/m
3
and a kinematic viscosity of 2.5*10
-6
m
2
/s, enters a long horizontal ventilation duct
of circular cross-section (radius of 0.25 m) with a velocity of 1.0 m/s. At the entrance it is assumed that this velocity
is uniform over the entire cross-section. However, as the flow proceeds down the duct a thin laminar boundary
develops on the inside wall of the duct.

If we first assume that this is like the boundary layer on a flat plate and that the velocity away from the boundary
layer remains at 1.0 m/s, find the displacement thickness in meters at a distance x (in meters) from the entrance.

Having calculated this displacement thickness we recognize that the velocity outside the boundary layer cannot
remain precisely constant at 1 m/s. Using the above calculated displacement thickness, find the uniform velocity
outside the boundary layer at a point 200 m from the entrance. What is the pressure difference between the entrance
and this point 200 m from the entrance? Describe in words how you might now proceed to a more accurate
boundary layer calculation which takes this pressure gradient into account.

o
D
= (2.7*10
-3
m
1/2
) x
1/2

U
x=200 m
= 1.4 m/s
Ap
x=200 m
= -0.59 N/m
2

Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 10 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_16
A measured dimensionless laminar boundary layer profile for flow past a flat plate is given in the table below. Use
the momentum integral equation to determine the 99% boundary layer thickness. Compare your result with the
exact (Blasius) result.

y/o u/U
0.00 0.00
0.08 0.133
0.16 0.265
0.24 0.394
0.32 0.517
0.40 0.630
0.48 0.729
0.56 0.811
0.64 0.876
0.72 0.923
0.80 0.956
0.88 0.976
0.96 0.988
1.00 1.000

1
2
5.034
5.034
Re
x
x Ux
o

= =

Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 11 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_18
A four-bladed Apache helicopter rotor rotates at 200 rpm in air (with a density of 1.2 kg/m
3
and kinematic viscosity
1.5*10
-5
m
2
/s). Each blade has a chord length of 53 cm and extends a distance of 7.3 m from the center of the rotor
hub. To greatly simplify the problem, assume that the blades can be modeled as very thin flat plates at a zero angle
of attack (no lift is generated).

a. At what radial distance from the hub center is the flow at the blade trailing edge turbulent?
b. What is the (99%) boundary layer thickness at the blade tip trailing edge?
c. Assuming that the flow over the entire length of the four blades is turbulent, estimate the power required to
drive the helicopter rotor (neglecting all other effects besides aerodynamic drag).

crit
0.68 m r =
3
9.1*10 m 9.1 mm o

= =
P
=58.3 kW

7.3 m
53 cm
200 rpm
Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 12 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_20
A small bug rests on the outside of a car side window as shown in the figure below. The surrounding air has a
density of 1.2 kg/m
3
and kinematic viscosity of 1.5*10
-5
m
2
/s. To first order, we can approximate the flow as flat
plate flow with no pressure gradient and the start of the boundary layer begins at the leading edge of the window.

a. Determine the minimum speed at which the bug will be sheared off of the car window if the bug can resist a
shear stress of up to 1 N/m
2
.
b. What is the total skin friction drag acting on the window at a speed of U =20 m/s?
c. Ignoring the presence of the bug, at what streamwise location will the boundary layer separation point occur

Hence, the minimum required speed to shear off the bug is 20 m/s
Boundary layer separation will not occur since there is no adverse pressure gradient in the flow (zero pressure

U
70 cm
35 cm
40 cm
100 cm
window
bug
Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 13 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_23
The flat plate formulas for turbulent flow over a flat plate assume that turbulent flow begins at the leading edge (x =
0). In reality there is an initial region of laminar flow as shown in the figure.

1. Derive an expression for the 99% boundary layer thickness in the turbulent region by accounting for the laminar
part of the flow.
2. Plot the dimensionless boundary layer thickness, o/x, as a function of Reynolds number (10
4
s Re
x
s 10
8
, use a
log scale for the Re
x
axis) for your derived relation and for the turbulent relation that does not consider the
laminar part.
Assume a 1/7
th
power law velocity profile for the turbulent boundary layer and an experimental friction coefficient
correlation of
1
6
0.020Re
f
C
o

~ .

6
7
1 7
6 6
4
0.120 4.620*10
Re 500,000
Re Re
x
x x
x
o
| |
= >
|
|
\ .

laminar flow
turbulent flow
U
y
x
Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 14 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_26
A thin equilateral triangle plate is immersed parallel to a 1 m/s stream of air at standard conditions. Estimate the
skin friction drag on this plate.

D = 1.1*10
-2
N

1 m/s
2 m
Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 15 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_28
Air flows between two parallel flat plates as shown in the figure below. The upper plate is porous from point B to
point C and additional air is injected through this surface. As a result, the free stream speed, U(x), varies as:
( )
0
U x U x o = +
where U
0
is the air speed entering the channel (at point A), o is a constant, and x is the distance downstream of the
point B. A boundary layer develops along the lower surface. Assuming a linear velocity distribution in the
boundary layer, estimate the rate of boundary layer growth, do/dx, in terms of o, x, U
0
, o, and the air properties.

( ) ( )
0 0
6 1 5 d
dx U x U x
o v o
o
o o o
=
+ +

A
B
C
y
x
U
0
o
Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 16 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_29
Consider a thin disk of density,
D
, diameter, d
D
, and height, h
D
, resting on a submerged flat plate as shown in the
figure below. Flowing over the plate is a fluid of density,
F
, and dynamic viscosity,
F
, with a free stream velocity,
U. There are no pressure gradients in the flow.

Assume the flow upstream of the plate is uniform, but then results in a boundary layer when the fluid contacts the
plate. The effective static friction coefficient between the disk and the plate is (for simplicity assume that the
static and dynamic friction coefficients are equal). For the following questions, assume the following:
d
D
=2 mm
h
D
=0.5 mm

D
=2500 kg/m
3

F
=1000 kg/m
3

F
=1.0e-3 kg/(ms)
U =1.5 m/s
=0.3
g =9.81 m/s
2

a. Determine the effective friction force acting to hold the disk in place.
b. If the disk is released at the leading edge of the plate, at what distance from the leading edge will the disk
come to rest? (Neglect the inertia of the disk, i.e. treat the disk movement in a quasi-static manner).
c. Neglecting the flow over the disk, at what distance from the leading edge will the boundary layer separate?

F
F
=6.9e-6 N
x =0.076 m
boundary layer will not separate

fluid with free stream velocity, U, density,
F
,
and dynamic viscosity,
F
disk of diameter, d
D
, height, h
D
, and density,
D

g
x
U
Practice Problems on Boundary Layers
C. Wassgren, Purdue University Page 17 of 17 Last Updated: 2010 Nov 22

BL_32
A flat plate of length c is placed inside a duct. By curving the walls of the duct, the pressure distribution on the flat
plate can be set. Assume the walls of the duct are contoured in such a way that the outer flow over the plate gives
the following velocity on the surface of the flat plate:

( )
1/5
8 1
e
u x
x x
U c c

( | |
=
| (
\ .

1. Write an expression for the streamwise pressure gradient as a function of x/c.
2. Determine which portions of the plate have a favorable pressure gradient and which portions have an adverse