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Modeling and Similitude


V7.11 Model of fish hatchery pond

with these data. If the agreement is satisfactory, then the model can be changed in the desired manner, and the corresponding effect on the prototype can be predicted with increased confidence. Another useful and informative procedure is to run tests with a series of models of different sizes, where one of the models can be thought of as the prototype and the others as models of this prototype. With the models designed and operated on the basis of the proposed design, a necessary condition for the validity of the model design is that an accurate prediction be made between any pair of models, since one can always be considered as a model of the other. Although suitable agreement in validation tests of this type does not unequivocally indicate a correct model design 1e.g., the length scales between laboratory models may be significantly different than required for actual prototype prediction2, it is certainly true that if agreement between models cannot be achieved in these tests, there is no reason to expect that the same model design can be used to predict prototype behavior correctly.

Models for which one or more similarity requirements are not satisfied are called distorted models.

Distorted Models. Although the general idea behind establishing similarity requirements for models is straightforward 1we simply equate pi terms2, it is not always possible to satisfy all the known requirements. If one or more of the similarity requirements are not met, for example, if 2m Z 2, then it follows that the prediction equation 1 1m is not true; that is, 1 Z 1m. Models for which one or more of the similarity requirements are not satisfied are called distorted models. Distorted models are rather commonplace, and they can arise for a variety of reasons. For example, perhaps a suitable fluid cannot be found for the model. The classic example of a distorted model occurs in the study of open channel or free-surface flows. Typically, in these problems both the Reynolds number, rV/ m, and the Froude number, V1g/, are involved. Froude number similarity requires
Vm 1gm/m V 1g/

If the model and prototype are operated in the same gravitational field, then the required velocity scale is Vm /m 1l/ V B/ Reynolds number similarity requires rV/ rmVm/m mm m and the velocity scale is
V7.12 Distorted river model

mm r / Vm m rm /m V Since the velocity scale must be equal to the square root of the length scale, it follows that mmrm nm 1 l/ 2 3 2 n mr (7.15)

where the ratio mr is the kinematic viscosity, n. Although in principle it may be possible to satisfy this design condition, it may be quite difficult, if not impossible, to find a suitable model fluid, particularly for small length scales. For problems involving rivers, spillways, and harbors, for which the prototype fluid is water, the models are also relatively large so that the only practical model fluid is water. However, in this case 1with the kinematic viscosity scale equal to unity2 Eq. 7.15 will not be satisfied, and a distorted model will result. Generally, hydraulic models of this type are distorted and are designed on the basis of the Froude number, with the Reynolds number different in model and prototype. Distorted models can be successfully used, but the interpretation of results obtained with this type of model is obviously more difficult than the interpretation of results obtained with true models for which all similarity requirements are met. There are no general rules for handling distorted


Chapter 7 Dimensional Analysis, Similitude, and Modeling

models, and essentially each problem must be considered on its own merits. The success of using distorted models depends to a large extent on the skill and experience of the investigator responsible for the design of the model and in the interpretation of experimental data obtained from the model. Distorted models are widely used, and additional information can be found in the references at the end of the chapter. References 14 and 15 contain detailed discussions of several practical examples of distorted fluid flow and hydraulic models.

Old Man River in (large) miniature One of the worlds largest scale models, a Mississippi River model, resides near Jackson, Mississippi. It is a detailed, complex model that covers many acres and replicates the 1,250,000 acre Mississippi River basin. Built by the Army Corps of Engineers and used from 1943 to 1973, today it has mostly gone to ruin. As with many hydraulic models, this is a distorted model, with a horizontal scale of 1 to 2000 and a vertical scale of 1 to 100. One step along the model river corresponds to one mile along the river. All essential river basin elements such as geological fea-

tures, levees, and railroad embankments were sculpted by hand to match the actual contours. The main purpose of the model was to predict floods. This was done by supplying specific amounts of water at prescribed locations along the model and then measuring the water depths up and down the model river. Because of the length scale, there is a difference in the time taken by the corresponding model and prototype events. Although it takes days for the actual floodwaters to travel from Sioux City, Iowa, to Omaha, Nebraska, it would take only minutes for the simulated flow in the model.


Some Typical Model Studies

Models are used to investigate many different types of fluid mechanics problems, and it is difficult to characterize in a general way all necessary similarity requirements, since each problem is unique. We can, however, broadly classify many of the problems on the basis of the general nature of the flow and subsequently develop some general characteristics of model designs in each of these classifications. In the following sections we will consider models for the study of 112 flow through closed conduits, 122 flow around immersed bodies, and 132 flow with a free surface. Turbomachine models are considered in Chapter 12.

7.9.1 Flow through Closed Conduits

Geometric and Reynolds number similarity is usually required for models involving flow through closed conduits.

Common examples of this type of flow include pipe flow and flow through valves, fittings, and metering devices. Although the conduit cross sections are often circular, they could have other shapes as well and may contain expansions or contractions. Since there are no fluid interfaces or free surfaces, the dominant forces are inertial and viscous so that the Reynolds number is an important similarity parameter. For low Mach numbers 1 Ma 6 0.3 2 , compressibility effects are usually negligible for both the flow of liquids or gases. For this class of problems, geometric similarity between model and prototype must be maintained. Generally the geometric characteristics can be described by a series of length terms, /1, /2, /3, . . . , /i, and /, where / is some particular length dimension for the system. Such a series of length terms leads to a set of pi terms of the form i /i /

where i 1, 2, . . . , and so on. In addition to the basic geometry of the system, the roughness of the internal surface in contact with the fluid may be important. If the average height of surface roughness elements is defined as e, then the pi term representing roughness will be e /. This parameter indicates that for complete geometric similarity, surface roughness would also have to be scaled. Note that this implies that for length scales less than 1, the model surfaces should be smoother than those in the prototype since em l/e. To further complicate matters, the pattern of roughness elements in model and prototype would have to be similar. These are conditions that are virtually impossible to satisfy exactly. Fortunately, in some problems the surface roughness plays


Some Typical Model Studies


a minor role and can be neglected. However, in other problems 1such as turbulent flow through pipes2 roughness can be very important. It follows from this discussion that for flow in closed conduits at low Mach numbers, any dependent pi term 1the one that contains the particular variable of interest, such as pressure drop2 can be expressed as /i e rV/ b Dependent pi term f a , , / / m (7.16)

This is a general formulation for this type of problem. The first two pi terms of the right side of Eq. 7.16 lead to the requirement of geometric similarity so that /im /i /m / or /im /m em l/ e /i / This result indicates that the investigator is free to choose a length scale, l/, but once this scale is selected, all other pertinent lengths must be scaled in the same ratio. The additional similarity requirement arises from the equality of Reynolds numbers rV/ rmVm/m mm m
Accurate predictions of flow behavior require the correct scaling of velocities.

em e /m /

From this condition the velocity scale is established so that mm r / Vm m rm /m V (7.17)

and the actual value of the velocity scale depends on the viscosity and density scales, as well as the length scale. Different fluids can be used in model and prototype. However, if the same fluid is used 1with mm m and rm r2, then Vm / V /m Thus, Vm Vl/, which indicates that the fluid velocity in the model will be larger than that in the prototype for any length scale less than 1. Since length scales are typically much less than unity, Reynolds number similarity may be difficult to achieve because of the large model velocities required. With these similarity requirements satisfied, it follows that the dependent pi term will be equal in model and prototype. For example, if the dependent variable of interest is the pressure differential,3 p, between two points along a closed conduit, then the dependent pi term could be expressed as 1 p rV 2

The prototype pressure drop would then be obtained from the relationship p r V 2 a b pm rm Vm

so that from a measured pressure differential in the model, pm, the corresponding pressure differential for the prototype could be predicted. Note that in general p pm.

In some previous examples the pressure differential per unit length, p/, was used. This is appropriate for flow in long pipes or conduits in which the pressure would vary linearly with distance. However, in the more general situation the pressure may not vary linearly with position so that it is necessary to consider the pressure differential, p, as the dependent variable. In this case the distance between pressure taps is an additional variable 1as well as the distance of one of the taps measured from some reference point within the flow system2.


Chapter 7 Dimensional Analysis, Similitude, and Modeling



Reynolds Number Similarity

GIVEN Model tests are to be performed to study the flow through a large check valve having a 2-ft-diameter inlet and carrying water at a flowrate of 30 cfs as shown in Fig. E7.6a. The working fluid in the model is water at the same temperature as that in the prototype. Complete geometric similarity exists between model and prototype, and the model inlet diameter is 3 in. FIND Determine the required flowrate in the model.

Q = 30 cfs
(Qm = ?)

To ensure dynamic similarity, the model tests should be run so that Rem Re or VmDm VD nm n where V and D correspond to the inlet velocity and diameter, respectively. Since the same fluid is to be used in model and prototype, n nm, and therefore Vm D V Dm The discharge, Q, is equal to VA, where A is the inlet area, so
2 Vm Am Qm D 3 1 p4 2 Dm 4 a b Q VA Dm 3 1 p4 2 D2 4

D = 2 ft (Dm = 3 in.)



For this particular example, DmD 0.125, and the corresponding velocity scale is 8 (see Fig. E7.6b). Thus, with the prototype velocity equal to V 1 30 ft3s 2 1 p4 21 2 ft 2 2 9.50 fts, the required model velocity is Vm 76.4 ft s. Although this is a relatively large velocity, it could be attained in a laboratory facility. It is to be noted that if we tried to use a smaller model, say one with D 1 in., the required model velocity is 229 fts, a very high velocity that would be difficult to achieve. These results are indicative of one of the difficulties encountered in maintaining Reynolds number similaritythe required model velocities may be impractical to obtain.

and for the data given

Dm D 1 312 ft 2
Vm /V



1 2 ft 2 Qm 3.75 cfs


1 30 ft3 s 2

10 (0.125, 8)


COMMENT As indicated by the above analysis, to maintain

Reynolds number similarity using the same fluid in model and prototype, the required velocity scale is inversely proportional to the length scale, that is, VmV 1 DmD 2 1. This strong influence of the length scale on the velocity scale is shown in Fig. E7.6b.
0 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1

Dm /D



In some problems Reynolds number similarity may be relaxed.

Two additional points should be made with regard to modeling flows in closed conduits. First, for large Reynolds numbers, inertial forces are much larger than viscous forces, and in this case it may be possible to neglect viscous effects. The important practical consequence of this is that it would not be necessary to maintain Reynolds number similarity between model and prototype. However, both model and prototype would have to operate at large Reynolds numbers. Since we do not know, a priori, what a large Reynolds number is, the effect of Reynolds numbers would