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Wake velocity measurement for flow over a circular cylinder

1. Aim of the experiment: To measure flow velocity in the in the wake region behind the
circular cylinder and plot the non-dimensional velocity distribution in a plane behind the
2. Introduction: External flows past objects have been studied extensively because of their
many practical applications. Flow past a blunt body, such as a circular cylinder, usually
experiences boundary layer separation and very strong flow oscillations in the wake region
behind the body. In certain Reynolds number range, a periodic flow motion will develop in
the wake as a result of boundary layer vortices being shed alternatively from either side of
the cylinder. This regular pattern of vortices in the wake is called a Karman vortex street. It
creates an oscillating flow at a discrete frequency that is correlated to the Reynolds number
of the flow. The periodic nature of the vortex shedding phenomenon can sometimes lead to
unwanted structural vibrations, especially when the shedding frequency matches one of the
resonant frequencies of the structure. In this experiment, we are going to investigate the flow
past a circular cylinder and measure the velocity of flow field in the wake of the cylinder.
3. Apparatus required: Wind tunnel, Prandtl manometer or (digital micro-manometer),
Betz manometer, circular cylinder, wall tap, Pitot probe.
4. Background:
4.1 Flow Separation: The presence of the fluid viscosity slows down the fluid particles
very close to the solid surface and forms a thin slow-moving fluid layer called the boundary
layer. The flow velocity is zero at the surface to satisfy the no-slip boundary
condition. Inside the boundary layer, flow momentum is quite low since it experiences a
strong viscous flow resistance. Therefore, the boundary layer flow is sensitive to the
external pressure gradient (as the form of a pressure force acting upon fluid particles). If the
pressure decreases in the direction of the flow, the pressure gradient is said to be
favourable. In this case, the pressure force can assist the fluid movement and there is no
flow retardation. However, if the pressure is increasing in the direction of the flow, an
adverse pressure gradient condition, as it is called, exists. In addition to the presence of a
strong viscous force, the fluid particles now have to move against the increasing pressure
force. Therefore, the fluid particles could be stopped or reversed, causing the neighboring
particles to move away from the surface. This phenomenon is called the boundary layer
4.2 Wake: Consider a fluid particle within the boundary layer around the circular
cylinder. From the pressure distribution measured in the experiment, the pressure is a
maximum at the stagnation point and gradually decreases along the front half of the
cylinder. The flow stays attached in this favorable pressure region as expected. However,
the pressure starts to increase in the rear half of the cylinder and the fluid now experiences
an adverse pressure gradient. Consequently, the flow separates from the surface creating a
highly turbulent region behind the cylinder called the wake. The pressure inside the wake
region remains low as the flow separates and a net pressure force (pressure drag) is produced.
The flow velocity is also reduced behind the cylinder. In the wake region, the velocity is
expected to be minimal near about the central axis of the cylinder.

4.3 Experimental facility: The cylinder and the Pitot probe are arranged in the wind tunnel
as shown in Fig.1. The Pitot probe is traversed along the slot made on the tunnel wall
behind the cylinder to get the velocities in the cross-section at various locations ( y values).

Wind Tunnel Test-section

Slot on the

Wall pressure tap



to Betz manometer

Pitot probe to measure

total pressure

to Prandtl manometer

Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of experimental set-up.

4.4 Mathematical formulae:
U Free stream velocity ; U = local velocity to be measured ;

PT Total pressure ( hbetz = hb ) ;

Ps Static pressure ( hprandtl = hp )

Patm 758.75 mm Hg = 758.7 x 13.6 mmWc ; Tatm 35 273 308 K ; R = 287 J/kg K
758.7 13.6 9.81

1.1451 kg / m3
a Density of air =
287 308

aU 2 PT


2( PT Ps )


2 w g ( hb hp )

, where d = diameter of the cylinder = 25 mm, a 15 106 m2 / s

= 24317.18 (obtained from the observation) = 2.43 104 .

5. Procedure: The experiment is arranged in the wind tunnel. One is expected to wait for
at least 15 to 20 min after the wind tunnel motor is turned on. Total pressure is measured at
various locations, (y mm), along the y axis in the wake zone with the help of Pitot probe
and a digital micro-manometer or Prandtl manometer. Free stream static pressure is
measured from the wall tap with the help of Betz manometer and the values are listed in the
observation table.
6.Sample Table:
y (in mm)

Total pr. head

(hp mm Wc)

Free stream
static pr. head
(hb mm Wc )

Flow velocity
(U, m/s)