Flow separation

Flow separation

All solid objects travelling through a fluid (or alternatively a stationary object exposed to a moving fluid) acquire a boundary layer of fluid around them where viscous forces occur in the layer of fluid close to the solid surface. Boundary layers can be either laminar or turbulent. A reasonable assessment of whether the boundary layer will be laminar or turbulent can be made by calculating the Reynolds number of the local flow conditions.

Flow separation occurs when the boundary layer travels far enough against an adverse pressure gradient that the speed of the boundary layer falls almost to zero. The fluid flow becomes detached from the surface of the object, and instead takes the forms of eddies and vortices. In aerodynamics, flow separation can often result in increased drag, particularly pressure drag which is caused by the pressure differential between the front and rear surfaces of the object as it travels through the fluid. For this reason much effort and research has gone into the design of aerodynamic and hydrodynamic surfaces which delay flow separation and keep the local flow attached for as long as possible. Examples of this include the fur on a tennis ball, dimples on a golf ball, turbulators on a glider, vortex generators on light aircraft and leading edge extensions for high angles of attack on the wings of aircraft such as the F/A-18 Hornet.

ee also

*Boundary layer separation
*Stall (flight)

External links

* [http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/aerodynamics/q0215.shtml "Aerospaceweb"-Golf Ball Dimples & Drag]


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