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10 Dimensionless Equations and Numbers

The chapter on Dimensional Analysis has shown that the relevant numbers that govern the character of physical phenomena are not the dimensional variables, but rather, dimensionless numbers. In the case of partial dierential equations and, in particular, the transport equations, these numbers can also be derived by making these equations dimensionless. Therefore, following this technique, this chapter extracts the fundamental dimensionless numbers that govern transport phenomena. Their physical signicance will be also unveiled.

10.1 Nondimensionalization Process

In order to obtain the dimensionless numbers that characterize transport phenomena, we will use the conservation equations in dierential form. The same process could be applied to the integral equations, giving the same results. The technique to make the equations dimensionless consists of introducing a simple change of variables, = 0 (10.1)

where is the original variable with dimensions, 0 is a dimensional constant (in particular, a reference or characteristic value of the variable) and consequently, is a dimensionless variable. This change of variables is introduced to all the variables and uid properties that take part in the equations, including space and time. In particular, t = t0 t = 0 T = T0 T DA = DA0 DA A = A0 A x = l0 x A = A0 A = 0 cp = cp0 cp v = v0 v p = p0 p = 0 fm = g fm



10 Dimensionless Equations and Numbers

Remark 10.1. For a constant uid property, it is not necessary to introduce the change of variables. When applied to a derivative, this change of variables yields t t Therefore, 0 = t t0 t x x 1 1 = = = y l0 y l0 z z In conclusion = 0 l0 (10.7) (10.5) = = 0 = 0 t t dt 1 = t dt t0 t (10.3) (10.4)

The nabla operator, being a spatial derivative, transforms in a similar way,


10.1.1 Continuity Equation The mass conservation equation in dierential form can be written as + ( v) = 0 t Introducing the above change of variables gives 0 v0 0 + ( v ) = 0 t0 t l0 (10.9) (10.8)

This equation has still dimensions of 0 /t0 or 0 v0 /l0 . In order to make it dimensionless, one should divide the equation by one of the factors in front of any term. However, in uid dynamics and transport phenomena, by convention the factor of the convective term is chosen to nondimensionalize the equation. In this case, this factor is 0 v0 /l0 , yielding l0 + ( v ) = 0 v0 t0 t (10.10)

10.1 Nondimensionalization Process


Note that the primed terms are dimensionless and, therefore, the factor in front of the time derivative is also dimensionless. This factor is called the Strouhal Number l0 S= Strouhal number v0 t0 Finally, the dimensionless equation is S + ( v ) = 0 t (10.11)

10.1.2 Momentum Equation Starting from the dierential form of the equation, v + (vv) = p + + f m t and applying the standard change of variables,
2 p0 0 v0 0 v0 v 0 v0 + ( v v ) = p + 2 ( ) +0 g f m (10.13) t0 t l0 l0 l0 2 Dividing again by the factor pre-multiplying the convective term, 0 v0 /l0 ,


p0 0 gl0 l0 v + ( v v ) = 2 p + v l ( ) + v 2 f m (10.14) v0 t0 t 0 v0 0 0 0 0 In conclusion, the additional dimensionless numbers for the momentum equation are Eu = Re Fr p0 2 0 v0 0 v0 l0 = 0 =
2 v0 gl0

Euler number Reynolds number Froude number

Finally, the dimensionless form of the equation is S 1 1 v ( ) + f m + ( v v ) = Eu p + t Re Fr (10.15)

Remark 10.2. Sometimes, one can nd the Froude number as the square root of the above number, v0 Fr = gl0


10 Dimensionless Equations and Numbers

Another important dimensionless number arises when the friction at a solid interface 0 is calculated. Indeed, the dimensionless viscous stress can be expressed as 1 0 v0 l0 1 (0 ) = 00 0 = 1 0 2 2 = CD Re (10.16) v 0 2 l0 2 0 v0 where CD = 0 1 2 0 v0 2 Drag coecient

10.1.3 Temperature Equation In Chapter 8 the following temperature equation was derived for an incompressible uid with constant heat conductivity and no volumetric heat source, cp T + cp v T = 2 T + v t The viscous dissipation function contains terms of the form v = so v = Nondimensionalizing the equation, 0 cp0 v0 T0 0 T0 0 v 2 0 cp0 T0 cp T + cp v T = ( )2 T + 2 0 v 2 t0 t l0 l0 l0 (10.20) and dividing by the factor of the convective term, 0 0 v0 l0 cp T + cp v T = ( )2 T + (10.21) v0 t0 t 0 cp0 v0 l0 0 cp0 T0 l0 v The new dimensionless numbers present are 0 cp0 v0 l0 0 2 v0 0 v0 = Ec = Re 0 cp0 T0 l0 cp0 T0 Pe = Pclet number e Eckert number u u y y
2 0 v0 2 v l0




As a consequence, the dimensionless form of the equation is S cp T 1 Ec ( )2 T + + cp v T = t Pe Re v (10.22)

10.1 Nondimensionalization Process


Another important nondimensional number for heat transport phenomena arises when the diusion heat ux at an interface is calculated. In dimensionless form, the heat ux is q0 q0 = 0 T = Nu (10.23)

The right-hand side is the dimensionless heat ux, called Nu = q0 l0 0 T Nusselt number

10.1.4 Conservation of Chemical Species Equation Let us take the dierential form of the equation, A + (A v) = j A + A t Introducing the standard change of variables, A0 v0 DA0 A0 A0 A + (A v ) = j A + A0 A 2 t0 t l0 l0 and dividing by the factor in front of the convective term, DA0 A0 l0 l0 A + (A v ) = jA + v0 t0 t v0 l0 A0 v0 A The new dimensionless numbers are PeII DaI v0 l0 DA0 A0 l0 = A0 v0 = Pclet II number e Damkhler I number o (10.26) (10.24)


Thus, the equation in dimensionless form can be written as S 1 A + (A v ) = j A + DaI A t PeII (10.27)

Another important dimensionless number for mass transport appears when the diusion mass ux at an interface is desired. In dimensionless form, the mass ux is jA0 jA0 = DA0 A0 = Num = Sh (10.28)

The right-hand side is the dimensionless heat ux, called the mass Nusselt or Sherwood number Num = Sh = jA0 l0 DA0 A0 Mass Nusselt or Sherwood number


10 Dimensionless Equations and Numbers

10.2 Other Important Dimensionless Numbers

Besides the parameters presented in the previous sections, some relevant nondimensional numbers for transport phenomena are dened as ratios of dimensionless numbers. In particular, Pr = Sc Le Note that 0 cp0 Pe = Re 0 0 PeII = = Re 0 DA0 0 PeII = = Pe 0 cp0 DA0 Prandtl number Schmidt number Lewis number

Sc (10.29) Pr Another number, signicant when the uid compressibility eects are important, is the Mach number, which relates the characteristic uid velocity v0 with the speed of propagation of the sonic waves in the uid, c0 , Le = Ma = v0 c0 Mach number

10.3 Physical Interpretation of the Dimensionless Numbers

The dimensionless numbers are ratios that indicate the importance of a term of the equation with respect to the reference term. In particular, if the equation has been divided by the convective term, the dimensionless numbers indicate the importance of the various terms with respect to transport by convection. These numbers can also indicate the importance of a transport phenomena compared to another. This is the case of Re, Pe, PeII , Pr, Sc and Le. Strouhal number For instance, the Strouhal number represents the ratio S = temporal variation convection residence time = characteristic time

If S >> 1 then, the temporal term of the equation is important and cannot be neglected. It is a transient process. S << 1 then, the ow is steady and the temporal term can be eliminated.

10.3 Physical Interpretation of the Dimensionless Numbers


Reynolds number The Reynolds number stems from dividing the convective term by the viscous diusion term, representing the ratio of inertial to viscous forces, Re = Thus, if Re << 1, the viscous forces (friction) are dominant. The convective term can be neglected compared to the viscous term. Re >> 1, convection (or inertial) forces are dominant. But one should be really cautious here: in this case, the viscous forces cannot be neglected everywhere in the ow, only away from interfaces. In particular, in areas close to interfaces and boundary layers, the viscous forces are of the same order as the inertial forces, because in the vicinity of interfaces, very strong gradients may exist. convection inertial forces diusion viscous forces

Euler Number The Euler number comes from the ratio between pressure forces and inertial forces, pressure forces Eu = inertial forces In general this term should be kept in the equations because the pressure forces typically are of the same order as the largest term in the equation (with a few exceptions). Froude Number Similarly, the Froude number is the ratio Fr = If Fr >> 1, the body forces can be neglected. Fr << 1, the body forces are signicant. This number is important for ows with a free surface, such as in the dynamics between the waves and a boat. inertial forces body forces

Pclet and Pclet II Numbers e e The Pclet and Pclet II numbers are analogous to the Reynolds number but e e for heat and mass transfer, respectively. The Pclet number is the ratio, e


10 Dimensionless Equations and Numbers

Pe =

heat transfer by convection heat transfer by diusion

Using the Prandtl number, dened as viscous diusion 0 cp0 = 0 thermal diusion we can write the Pclet number as a function of Reynolds number, e Pr = Pe = Re Pr The Prandtl number indicates the importance of momentum transport by diusion compared to heat transport by diusion. Likewise, for mass transfer, PeII = mass transfer of component A by convection mass transfer of component A by diusion

This number compares mass transport phenomena by convection and diusion. Other relevant dimensionless numbers are 0 viscous diusion Sc = = 0 D 0 mass diusion thermal diusion 0 = Le = 0 Cp0 D0 mass diusion As a function of these numbers, we can write PeII PeII = Re Sc = Pe Le

The numbers Prandtl, Schmidt and Lewis are properties of the uid. For instance, for air Pr = 0.7 and for water, about Pr = 5, a value that depends on temperature (see Table 10.1). Damkhler Number o The importance of the chemical production of component A compared to the convective term is given by the Damkhler number, o DaI = If DaI << 1, the chemical production can be ignored. The chemical reaction is slow compared to the convective time. DaI >> 1, the chemical production is important. The reaction is fast, and equilibrium conditions can be assumed. DaI 1, the chemical time is of the same order as the convective time. For a precise calculation, the chemical kinetics should be modeled. production of component A convection

Problems Table 10.1. Ranges of Prandtl number, Pr, for various substances [27]. Fluid Liquid metals Gases Water Light organic liquids Oils Glycerin Pr 0.004 0.03 0.7 1.0 1.7 13.7 5 50 50 10 000 2 000 100 000


10.1 The transport equation that governs the concentration of suspended sediments S [kg/m3 ] in a stream of depth h is uhS vhS hS + + = t x y x h S x + y h S y + R wf S

where h is the water level; u, v velocity components; R the rate of sediment re-suspension; and wf the sedimentation factor. (a) Determine the dimensions of , R, wf . (b) Find the dimensionless numbers that characterize the sediment transport. (c) Identify the dimensionless numbers. 10.2 In the previous exercise, give criteria for: (a) Steady ow. (b) Negligible viscous forces. (c) Important sedimentation rate. (d) Apply the three above conditions for the case h = 1 m; U = 0.5 m/s; = 0.001; wf = 0.1; characteristic time = 1 day. 10.3 The salt concentration of sea water obeys the following relation: S S S S +u +v +w t x y z =K 2S 2S 2S + + 2 2 x y z 2

where K is the mass diusion coecient, of units m2 /s and S, the salinity (parts per thousand). Make the equation nondimensional and discuss the encountered parameters. 10.4 In a porous media, the combination of the continuity equation, = (v) t


10 Dimensionless Equations and Numbers

and the Darcy law, v= gives rise to the equation

(p g)

= [ (p g)] t where is the medium permeability [m2 ], remaining symbols have the usual meaning. the medium porosity, and the

(a) Determine the dimensions of . (b) Nondimensionalize the equation and obtain the relevant dimensionless parameters. 10.5 The partial dierential equation that governs the energy transport in a two-dimensional incompressible porous media can be approximated as: cp 2T 2T p T p T cp = 2 + 2 x x y y x y

where is a property of the porous medium called permeability. The rest of the parameters have the usual meaning. (a) What are the dimensions of ? (b) In order to nondimensionalize the equation, besides using the properties of the medium , and cp , employ the characteristic scales (l0 , v0 , 0 , T0 ). Discuss the resulting dimensionless parameters. 10.6 In natural convection ow problems, the variation of density due to small temperature dierences T can be modeled with the Boussinesq approximation. This approximation incorporates the buoyancy forces into the momentum equations, resulting in 0 Dv = (p + 0 gz) 0 T g + 2 v Dt

where 0 is the uid density at the reference temperature, T0 ; T = T T0 is the temperature dierence causing the motion and , the thermal expansion coecient. Find the relevant dimensionless parameters. 10.7 The momentum equation for a rotating frame of reference, with an angular velocity , can be written as follows v + v v = p + v r 2 v +f m t
centrifugal force Coriolis

where r is the position vector with respect to the rotation axis; v, the velocity vector; represents here the Laplacian, = = 2 ; and the rest of the variables have the usual meaning.



(a) Find the dimensionless numbers that indicate the relevance of the centrifugal and Coriolis forces. (b) Identify the rest of the dimensionless numbers. 10.8 The uid ow in porous media, such as the ow in soils of sand and clay, can be described by the Brinkman equation, p v + 2 v + g = 0

where p is the pressure, v the velocity vector, the dynamic viscosity, the permeability of the medium, the density and g the vector of gravitational acceleration. (a) Determine the dimensions of . (b) Nondimensionalize the equation and obtain the relevant dimensionless parameters.