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Y. S.

Associate Professor Mem. ASME

Laminar Non-Newtonian Fluid Flow in Noncircular Ducts and Microchannels

Non-Newtonian uid ow in noncircular ducts and microchannels is examined. A simple model is proposed for power law uids based on the RabinowitschMooney formulation. By means of a new characteristic length scale, the square root of the cross-sectional area, it is shown that dimensionless wall shear stress can be made a weak function of duct shape. The proposed model is based on the solution for the rectangular duct and has an accuracy of 10% or better. The current model eliminates the need for tabulated data or equations for several common shapes found in handbooks, namely, circular tube, elliptic tube, parallel channel, rectangular duct, isosceles triangular duct, circular annulus, and polygonal ducts. DOI: 10.1115/1.2979005 Keywords: non-Newtonian ow, power law uid, friction factor, noncircular ducts, laminar ow, microchannels

J. Edge
Graduate Research Assistant Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. Johns, NF, A1B 3X5, Canada


The present work is concerned with the prediction of pressure drop in noncircular ducts for non-Newtonian power law uids. Much work has been conducted in this area, and the most frequently cited solutions are found in the texts of Refs. 1,2. Additional results are also available in a number of handbooks such as Ref. 3. The ow of non-Newtonian power law uids occurs frequently in the chemical process industries 2 and is also of interest in microuidic applications 4,5. Koo and Kleinstreuer 4 examined several issues related to the ow of liquids in microchannels. They considered simple power law uids, and show that even with a small change in the power law ow index, the pressure drop can vary considerably. Recently, Azimain and Sed 5 considered the effect of the power law ow index on heat transfer and pressure drop in microchannel heat sinks. For shear thinning uids they found a considerable decrease in the pressure drop while realizing a signicant increase in heat transfer. Laminar ow of Newtonian uids in a variety of cross sections such as circular tubes, parallel plates, and concentric annuli has been researched and documented by a number of sources 6. Recently, Muzychka and Yovanovich 7 formulated a simple model for fundamental noncircular shapes using the solution for the rectangular duct and a new characteristic length scale, the square root of ow area. The proposed model predicted much of the laminar ow data within 10% or better. A result not attainable with the hydraulic diameter as a length scale. Bharami et al. 8 further developed approximations for other noncircular ducts and microchannels for laminar ows. They also adopted the length scale advocated by Muzychka and Yovanovich 7. They also showed that this length scale arises naturally when one nondimensionalizes ducts and channels of noncircular shape without the a priori assumption of hydraulic diameter as a length scale. The ow of non-Newtonian uids in rectangular, elliptical, triangular, polygonal, and annular shaped ducts was also considered by Kozicki et al. 9 and Kozicki and Tiu 10,11. Tiu and coworkers 911 developed an approximate two parameter model using the RabinowitschMooney formulations for the channel and duct. The advantage of this model was that the two parameters
Contributed by the Fluids Engineering Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FLUIDS ENGINEERING. Manuscript received January 22, 2008; nal manuscript received July 30, 2008; published online September 22, 2008. Assoc. Editor: Dennis Siginer.

were easily derived from the analytic solutions for laminar Newtonian ows. The disadvantage of this model is that these parameters vary with the shape and aspect ratio of the duct, and thus must be tabulated for each shape. This tabulation appears frequently in the open literature 2,3, albeit with some errors in the required constants. The traditional method of relying on the use of tabulated and/or graphical data can be replaced with the use of a more robust model that is more effective, using one equation that is capable of predicting dimensionless mean wall shear stress for a variety of shapes within a small margin of error. This new model is based in part on the laminar Newtonian ow model of Muzychka and Yovanovich 7. Given the current and potential uses of nonNewtonian uids and the difculty in obtaining solutions in more than one dimension, it is benecial to develop a generalized model for ducts of any shape. This becomes more important in applications involving microchannels, where the fabrication process typically yields channels that are nearly rectangular in shape, having rounded sides or corners. In other cases, the process may yield channels of slightly trapezoidal shape. These issues pose no problem in the present analysis, as the model is most sensitive to changes in aspect ratio and not in shape.

Basic Equations

The present formulation utilizes the work of Kozicki et al. 9 who developed a simple generalization of the Rabinowitsch Mooney equations for the circular duct and plane channel. Beginning rst with the denition of an Otswald de Waele power law uid,


u n

where K is the consistency index and n is the power law ow index 1,2. Equation 1 is valid for one dimensional ow in a tube or annulus and plane channel. For two dimensional ows, such as in rectangular or elliptical ducts, constitutive relationships are much more complex, which make analytical solution difcult. Simple solutions to the momentum equation, = dp dz 2

may be obtained for the tube, channel, and annulus 2. NOVEMBER 2008, Vol. 130 / 111201-1

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Fig. 1 Shapes under consideration

The RabinowitschMooney equation was developed to calculate the rate of shear at the tube or channel wall 1 for nonNewtonian uids. Using the RabinowitschMooney equations for the circular tube and parallel plate channel, Kozicki et al. 9 proposed that the rate of shear at the wall of a noncircular duct could be represented by a more general form

u n

d = f w = c1 w

friction factor introduces the Reynolds number, which, for fully developed viscous ows, is not required or physically meaningful given the traditional interpretation of the Reynolds number. However, as a criterion for determining whether the ow is laminar or turbulent, the generalized Reynolds number, Reg, will be dened 1,2 as Reg = 8

8U 8U Dh + c2 Dh dw

U2nDn h K c 2 + c 1/ n n

where U is the bulk uid velocity, Dh = 4A / P is the hydraulic diameter, and c1 and c2 are constants, which depend on the duct shape and aspect ratio. The above equation can be re-arranged and integrated to give 2,7

It is frequently assumed that the DodgeMetzner criterion 1,2, Reg 2100, may be employed for predicting whether laminar ow prevails in the noncircular duct. In many texts 1,2, Eq. 8 after combining with Eq. 6 is often written as f= 16 Reg 10

1 8U = w c2/c1 Dh c1


f d

Now for a power law uid we have f =


Integration of Eq. 4 with Eq. 5 yields the following result: w = K

8U c1 c2 + Dh n A p P L

Finally, one can determine the pressure gradient from a simple force balance on the duct wall to obtain the relationship w =

which when n = 1, with K = , gives f = 16 / ReDh, the solution for Newtonian ow in a tube. Equations 9 and 10 are a convenient means of representing friction factors for non-Newtonian power law uids. However, Eq. 9 is still beset with the problem of requiring tabulations for c1 and c2 for each geometry. Further, the constants c1 and c2 have only been deduced for a limited set of geometries 9. Although they may be determined using appropriate numerical methods for other shapes, this additional effort is not required unless greater accuracy is desired. A new method will be proposed, which provides a convenient alternative, and may be applied to other geometries for which no solutions exist.

Fundamental Solutions

The advantage of Eq. 6 was that the constants c1 and c2 could be deduced from solutions for Newtonian uid ows in noncircular ducts. Frequently in literature a friction factor is dened having the form f= w 1 2 2 U 8

In the present work, we will propose a dimensionless mean wall shear stress to be used in conjunction with Eq. 7. The use of the 111201-2 / Vol. 130, NOVEMBER 2008

Seven fundamental shapes are given consideration in the published texts and handbooks 13. These are the tube, channel, rectangular duct, annular duct, elliptical duct, polygonal ducts, and isosceles triangle ducts. The special cases of the tube and channel are also predicted from the solution for the circular annulus. The basic shapes under consideration are shown in Fig. 1. These solutions are presented in tabular form in Refs. 2,3. The two constants c1 and c2 are geometric parameters related to the cross section of the various shaped ducts. As pointed out by Kozicki et al. 9, they may be derived from the solutions for Newtonian ow in noncircular ducts. These two parameters have Transactions of the ASME

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Table 1 Summary of constants for polygonal ducts N 4 5 6 8 c1 0.2121 0.2245 0.2316 0.2391 0.2500 c2 0.6766 0.6966 0.7092 0.7241 0.7500

Table 2 Summary of constants for isosceles triangle ducts 2 deg 10 20 40 60 80 90 c1 0.1547 0.1693 0.1840 0.1875 0.1849 0.1830 c2 0.6278 0.6332 0.6422 0.6462 0.6438 0.6395

the following values, which may be determined mathematically for each shape under consideration. For completeness, we review the following solutions. For a circular tube, c1 = 4 , For a parallel plate channel, c1 = 2 , For a concentric annulus, c1 + c2 = 1 r 2 1 r 2 1 + r 2 ln1/r 1 r 2 1 r 2 1 r 2 1 ln 2 ln1/r 2 ln1/r 13
1 1

4.1 Nondimensionalization. We begin rst with the nondimensionalization of the theoretical results, by proposing a dimensionless mean wall shear stress, , dened as A p n L P L = = KUn KUn wL n

c2 =

3 4

11 12


c2 = 1

where L is an arbitrary length scale related to the duct cross section. For Newtonian uids, n = 1 and reduces to the more wL / U 14. familiar Poiseuille number Po= Using Eqs. 6 and 19 and the length scale L = Dh, we obtain
D = 8n c2 + h

c1 n


c1 =

4 1 where r = ri / ro . For an elliptic duct,


c1 + c2 =

2 2 + 1 8 E 2

15 16

c1 =

2 2 + 1 32E2

where = b / a is the ratio of the minor to major axes and E is a complete elliptic integral of the second kind of complementary modulus = 1 2. For a rectangular duct, c1 + c2 =

Equation 20 is a convenient form from which we perform our analysis. However, one drawback is the use of the hydraulic diameter as a length scale. With this choice of length scale there is no conformity in the results for different duct shapes. Further, Eq. 20 still requires the unique values of c1 and c2 for each particular case. One issue addressed by Muzychka and Yovanovich 7 is the selection of an appropriate length scale for dening the dimensionless mean wall shear. It was found that the use of the hydraulic diameter in laminar ow situations yields greater scatter in results as compared with the use of L = A as a characteristic length scale. When the latter length scale is used, the effect of duct shape becomes minimized, and much of the laminar Newtonian ow data can be predicted using a single expression based on the solution for the rectangular duct. Redening Eq. 20 using the length scale L = A yields
n A = 2 c2 +

21 + 2 1

3 1 192 2m + 1 5 tanh 5 m=0 2m + 1 2

17 18

c1 n

c1 =

1 21 + 2 1 + 4

where = b / a is the ratio of the minor to major axes. For regular polygons, their values are tabulated in Table 1. For isosceles triangle ducts, their values are tabulated in Table 2. They are based on the work of Sparrow and co-workers 12,13.


1m+1 2m + 1 2

1 3 2m + 1 cosh 2

The grouping P / A has been shown by Muzychka and Yovanovich 7, Bharami et al. 8, and Bejan 15 to be an important geometric scaling factor. In order to compare the various shapes the aspect ratio for each geometry needs to be dened. Referring to Table 3, the nominal aspect ratios for the shapes of interest are given 7. The aspect ratio for the circular annulus was derived by Muzychka and Yovanovich 7. This relationship may be obtained from two physical arguments. The rst method is to solve for the ratio of the gap of the annulus, ro ri, to the mean perimeter, while the second method is the ratio of the gap to the equivalent length if 2 the duct area, r2 o ri , is converted to the shape of a rectangle.


Table 3 Duct aspect ratio Geometry Aspect ratio

Nondimensionalization and Modeling

In the present analysis, a simple model is proposed using two basic ideas, namely, the introduction of a more appropriate characteristic length scale and the denition of a suitable duct aspect ratio to provide a measure of slenderness. Journal of Fluids Engineering

Regular polygon Singly connected Circular annulus Isosceles triangle

=1 =b/a = 1 r / 1 + r = 2b / h

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Table 4 Summary of coefcients in Eqs. 17 and 18 m=1 m = 10 c2 0.95109 0.90943 0.84363 0.79421 0.75554 0.72580 0.70398 0.68885 0.67909 0.67346 0.67091 c1 0.45351 0.41322 0.34750 0.29914 0.26591 0.24393 0.22971 0.22077 0.21550 0.21285 0.21209 c2 0.95129 0.90983 0.84440 0.79536 0.75709 0.72781 0.70653 0.69206 0.68310 0.67845 0.67710

rectangular duct to be approximated using a single term solution. The equations may then be simplied to the following format: c1 = 1 21 + 2 1

0.05 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1

c1 0.45351 0.41322 0.34750 0.29914 0.26591 0.24394 0.22971 0.22079 0.21557 0.21298 0.21233


cosh 2



c2 =

192 tanh 2 2 1 + 2 1 5


When the aspect ratio of the annulus is dened in this manner, it is limited to the range 0 1 / 0.3183 based on 0 r 1. Similarly, in the isosceles triangle, the aspect ratio is simply a measure of slenderness, such that 0 2b / h , h / 2b 1. In most cases, good agreement is achieved when the smallest angle 15 deg 7. However, one can also dene an aspect ratio using the equivalent rectangle approach when the smaller dimension is preserved and the equivalent areas are used to determine the larger dimension. This approach generally affords a small increase in accuracy. 4.2 General Model. Having chosen an appropriate length scale and measure of slenderness, it is now appropriate to propose a simple model. In Ref. 7, Muzychka and Yovanovich found that after choosing a more appropriate length scale and dening a suitable aspect ratio, most results fell within a narrow band that was very well approximated by the solution for a rectangular channel. More recently, Duan and Muzychka 16 also observed similar trends for slip ow of gases in microchannels. In both cases the model for the rectangular duct, which is normally dened in terms of an innite series, could also be approximated well by the rst term, without incurring a signicant error. Since the present work will utilize the rectangular duct solution for simplicity, one should examine the required number of terms in Eqs. 17 and 18. Table 4 presents the results for c1 and c2 for one and ten terms. Additionally, 100 terms were also considered, but the results were almost the same as those for the ten terms. Upon closer examination of the single term solution it is evident that as the number of terms in the summation series is increased to ten terms, the greatest error occurs when = 1, which gives an error of 0.12% higher for c1 and 0.92% lower for c2, as compared with the single term solutions. It is therefore appropriate for the

c2 values dened by Eqs. 22 and 23 and the Using the c1 and nondimensional equation, Eq. 21, with the appropriate value of P / A from Fig. 1, the dimensionless shear stress for all shapes considered in the present work becomes
n c2 + A = 2

c1 n

2 + 1


Finally, the Reynolds number criterion becomes Reg =

+1 U2nAn 2100 n1 n 8 K c2 + c 1/ n 2


Results and Discussion

The analysis of Eq. 24 was performed for shear thinning uids n = 1 / 3 , 1 / 2 , 2 / 3 , 3 / 4, the Newtonian uid n = 1, and shear thickening uids n = 5 / 4 , 4 / 3 , 3 / 2. The results are given in Figs. 2 and 3 and Tables 47. Beginning with Tables 5 and 6, we see that signicant differences arise when the hydraulic diameter is used for nondimensionalizing the wall shear stress. Variances from the rectangular duct solution for other shapes such as the elliptic duct, annular duct, and isosceles triangle can be as large as 85% when L = Dh is used as a length scale. However, when L = A is used, this variance is reduced to much less than 20%, and in most cases when re-entrant corners are not present, this variance is reduced to less than 10%. Turning to Table 7 for the regular polygons, it is clear that variances as much as 30% occur with L = Dh as a length scale, while for L = A, it is much less than 10%. If one excludes the triangular duct, then the variance is less than 1%. Figures 2 and 3 show graphically the results summarized in Table 6 over the full range of aspect ratio. It is clear that when the length scale is based on the square root of the cross-sectional ow area, the rectangular duct may be used with reasonably good ac-

Table 5 n=1/3 n=1/2

D max/min % difference h







Rectangle 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 Ellipse 7.69/0.28 10.16/0.20 11.91/0.82 12.67 / 0.65 14.67/0.12 14.16/1.94 14.96 / 1.75 16.55 / 1.35 Annulus 8.34/0.011 11.43/0.02 14.20/0.02 15.51/0.021 19.18/0.03 22.57/0.033 23.66/0.035 25.76/0.039 Isosceles 21.22/3.45 29.95/4.70 23.76/6.02 42.80/6.41 55.97/8.04 45.26/11.30 74.62/10.16 84.55/11.21

Table 6 n=1/3 n=1/2

A max/min % difference
n=3/4 n=1 n=5/4 n=4/3 n=3/2


Rectangle 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 Ellipse 5.22/0.061 6.01/0.02 6.32/0.003 6.36 / 0.19 6.19/0.030 5.74 / 0.17 5.54/1.59 5.11/1.78 Annulus 1.97/0.006 2.25/0.007 2.48/0.009 3.18/0.010 5.45/0.01 7.92/0.013 8.78/0.014 10.54/0.015 Isosceles 10.68/0.36 13.39/0.18 15.48/0.27 16.39/0.99 18.75/0.42 20.76/0.23 21.39/5.02 22.59/4.84

111201-4 / Vol. 130, NOVEMBER 2008

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Fig. 2

A for noncircular ducts at n < 1

Fig. 3

A for noncircular ducts for n 1

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Table 7 n=1/3 N 3 4 5 6 8 N=/N=3

D h

Data for polygonal ducts n=1/2 n=2/3 n=3/4

2.225 2.190 2.186 2.187 2.189 2.1991 0.99 n=1

D h

3.051 2.968 2.955 2.954 2.959 2.977 0.98 n=5/4

D h

4.151 3.987 3.959 3.955 3.961 3.992 0.96 n=4/3

D h

4.833 4.613 4.574 4.568 4.575 4.614 0.96 n=3/2

2.130 2.190 2.221 2.240 2.259 2.289 1.09

2.858 2.968 3.027 3.063 3.101 3.162 1.11

3.804 3.987 4.088 4.149 4.218 4.327 1.14

4.382 4.613 4.742 4.821 4.909 5.051 1.15

3 4 5 6 8 N=/N=3

6.669 7.114 7.369 7.526 7.706 8.000 1.20

7.602 7.114 7.022 7.004 7.014 7.090 0.93

10.119 10.929 11.406 11.704 12.047 12.619 1.25

11.917 10.929 10.739 10.698 10.710 10.850 0.91

11.622 12.604 13.186 13.552 13.974 14.681 1.26

13.837 12.604 12.366 12.313 12.326 12.490 0.90

15.325 16.756 17.616 18.160 18.791 19.859 1.30

18.647 16.756 16.388 16.302 16.317 16.568 0.89

curacy to approximate most shapes. In essence, L = A achieves for laminar ows what L = Dh achieves for turbulent ows. In the case of non-Newtonian uids, the degree of accuracy is quite good for shear thinning uids n 1 and shear thickening uids n 1, when ducts with small re-entrant corners are excluded, 15 deg. In general the results for most shear thinning uids are quite good, due in part to the blunt velocity distributions, i.e., approaching plug ow. One can also see that for shear thinning uids, the variances become smaller, even when L = Dh is used, which may offer insight to why the hydraulic diameter works so well for turbulent Newtonian uid ows. Given the atter proles found in turbulent duct ows, and the marked decrease in variances in Table 5 for shear thinning uids, it is hard to overlook the similarities. Overall, the model dened by Eq. 24 is quite effective as a predictive scheme for non-Newtonian uids. Equation 24 eliminates the need for complex tabulated solutions and may be used with a high degree of accuracy for most duct and microchannel shapes.

Summary and Conclusions

This paper examined the fully developed laminar ow in noncircular ducts for non-Newtonian power law uids. A simple model was developed, which provides accuracy of better than 10% for ducts without re-entrant corners. In those cases, such as the isosceles triangle duct, the error increases to approximately 22%. This simple model is based on the solution for the rectangular duct when an appropriate characteristic length scale and measure of slenderness are chosen. In previous works, the length scale was chosen to be the square root of the duct rather than the hydraulic diameter. When the hydraulic diameter is used as a length scale, the aforementioned errors increase to 25% and 85%, respectively. With this new model it is now possible to predict the pressure drop in a number of ducts for which no solution exists. This is quite important in microchannel applications where microfabrication techniques often yield trapezoidal shaped ducts, semielliptical, or other variant of a rectangular channel. The analysis was conducted for a power law index in the range of 1 / 3 n 3 / 2, which is much larger than most typical non-Newtonian uids.

Nomenclature A ow area, m2 a , b major and minor axes of ellipse or rectangle, m c1 , c2 RabinowitschMooney constants c2 generalized RabinowitschMooney constants c1 , D diameter of circular duct, m Dh hydraulic diameter, 4A / P E complete elliptic integral of second kind f friction factor / 1 U2 2 K consistency index, Pa sn n power law ow index L duct length, m L arbitrary length scale, m N number of sides of polygon P perimeter, m p pressure, N / m2 Po Poiseuille number, L / U r radius, m Re Reynolds number, UL / U average velocity, m/s Greek Symbols w Subscripts aspect ratio, b / a complementary modulus, 1 2 dynamic viscosity, N s / m2 kinematic viscosity, m2 / s uid density, kg / m3 shear stress, N / m2 wall shear stress, N / m2 dimensionless wall shear stress, wLn / KUn

based on the square root of ow area Dh based on the hydraulic diameter f uid

1 Skelland, A. H. P., 1967, Non-Newtonian Flow and Heat Transfer, Wiley, New York. 2 Chhabra, R. P., and Richardson, J. F., 1999, Non-Newtonian Flow in the Process Industries, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford. 3 Kakac, S., Shah, R. K., and Aung, W., 1987, Handbook of Single Phase Convective Heat Transfer, Wiley, New York. 4 Koo, J., and Kleinstreuer, C., 2003, Liquid Flow in Microchannels: Experimental Observations and Computational Analyses of Microuidic Effects, J.

The authors acknowledge the nancial support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada NSERC for support provided through the Discovery Grants program. 111201-6 / Vol. 130, NOVEMBER 2008

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Micromech. Microeng., 13, pp. 568579. 5 Azimain, A. R., and Sed, M., 2004, Performance of Microchannel Heat Sinks With Newtonian and Non-Newtonian Fluids, Heat Transfer Eng., 258, pp. 1727. 6 Shah, R. K., and London, A. L., 1978, Laminar Flow Forced Convection in Ducts, Academic, New York. 7 Muzychka, Y. S., and Yovanovich, M. M., 2002, Laminar Flow Friction and Heat Transfer in Non-Circular DuctsPart I: Hydrodynamic Problem, Compact Heat Exchangers: A Festschrift on the 60th Birthday of Ramesh K. Shah, G. P.Celata, B. Thonon, A. Bontemps, and S. Kandlikar, eds., Edizioni ETS, Italy, pp. 123130. 8 Bharami, M., Yovanovich, M. M., and Culham, J. R., 2006, Pressure Drop of Fully Developed Laminar Flow in Microchannels of Arbitrary Cross-Section, ASME J. Fluids Eng., 128, pp. 10361044. 9 Kozicki, W., Chou, C. H., and Tiu, C., 1966, Non-Newtonian Flow in Ducts of Arbitrary Cross-Sectional Shape, Chem. Eng. Sci., 21, pp. 665679.

10 Kozicki, W., and Tiu, C., 1968, Geometric Parameters for Some Flow Channels, Can. J. Chem. Eng., 46, pp. 389393. 11 Kozicki, W., and Tiu, C., 1971, Improved Parametric Characterization of Flow Geometries, Can. J. Chem. Eng., 49, pp. 562569. 12 Sparrow, E. M., 1962, Laminar Flow in Isosceles Triangular Ducts, AIChE J., 8, pp. 599604. 13 Lundgren, T. S., Sparrow, E. M., and Starr, J. B., 1964, Pressure Drop Due to the Entrance Region in Ducts of Arbitrary Cross Section, Trans. ASME, 20, pp. 620626. 14 Churchill, S. W., 1987, Viscous Flows: The Practical Use of Theory, Butterworth-Heinemann, Boston, MA. 15 Bejan, A., 2000, Shape and Structure: From Engineering to Nature, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England. 16 Duan, Z. P., and Muzychka, Y. S., 2007, Slip Flow in Non-Circular MicroChannels, Microuid. Nanouid., 34, pp. 473484.

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