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General Description
Temperature Control Module
Installation and Setting Up


Assembly Instructions



General Test Procedures

Effect of Varying Viscosity


TecQuipment Reynolds Number and Transitional Flow


Pipe diameter
Reynolds number
Distances from surface
Fluid density
Coefficient of viscosity
Kinematic viscosity
Shear stress



Figure 1 Reynolds number and transitional flow

When a fluid flows next to a solid boundary the nature
of the flow depends on the velocity relative to that
boundary. At low velocities the layers of fluid move
smoothly over one another and this is termed laminar
flow. However, as the velocity is increased small
disturbances cause eddies which mix-up the layers of
fluid and produces a different pattern of flow, which is
termed turbulent. This change has a marked effect on
the forces acting between the fluid and the solid
boundary and an understanding of the behaviour is of
fundamental importance in the study of hydraulics and
fluid mechanics. The nature of flow over an aircraft
wing affects the drag and hence determines the power
required to propel the aircraft forwards. Similarly, when
fluid flows along a pipe the nature of the flow
determines the pressure loss and hence the power
required to pump the fluid along the pipe.
Before the advent of high speed transport, the most
important application of fluid mechanics was in the
study of flow in pipes. Many engineers and scientists
investigated the behaviour of flow in pipes but it was a
British physicist named Osborne Reynolds (1842 1912) who first identified the variables controlling the

flow and produced a rational means of predicting the

nature of flow. Reynolds showed that the behaviour
depends on the balance between inertia and viscous
forces in the fluid. This led to the definition of a nondimensional parameter, now called Reynolds number,
which expresses the ratio of inertia to viscous forces and
can be used to identify the conditions under which the
flow changes from laminar to turbulent. By experiment
it was found that the change always occurred at a
similar value of Reynolds number irrespective of the
fluid and the size of pipe.
The Reynolds Number and Transitional Flow
demonstrates the kind of experiment conducted to show
the dependence of flow on Reynolds number. The
apparatus enables the nature of the flow in a pipe to be
studied by observing the behaviour of a filament of dye
injected into the fluid. The flow rate can be varied and
the change, or transition, between laminar and
turbulent flow can be clearly demonstrated. The effect
of viscosity on the behaviour can be demonstrated by
varying the temperature using an optional temperature
control module, or by using different fluids.

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TecQuipment Reynolds Number and Transitional Flow

Page 2


General Description
Figure 2 show the Reynolds Number and Transitional
Flow apparatus with the Temperature Control Module
(H215a). It should be noted that the Temperature
Control Module is an optional ancillary, which is not
supplied with the equipment as standard.
The basic apparatus consists of a precision bore
glass tube of 12 mm internal diameter which is
supported in a large shroud of rust-proof material. The
shroud is open at the front and the inside surface is a
light colour to assist flow visualisation. At the top of the
shroud is a constant head tank from which water can
pass into the tube via a specially shaped bell-mouth
entry. Water is supplied to the tank via a diffuser
located below the bell-mouth. This provides a nearly
uniform supply of water to all sides of the bell-mouth.
Further smoothing of the flow is achieved by passing
the water through a stilling bed consisting of glass beads
packed above the diffuser. In this way steady uniform
flow conditions are obtained at entry to the bell-mouth.

The supply pipe to the tank is at the rear of the

apparatus and can connect either directly to a tap or to
the outlet of the temperature control module. A fixed
overflow pipe is also fitted to the tank to ensure a
constant head of water. Connect this pipe to a drain
using a length of flexible hose supplied.
A valve at the outlet from the tube controls the flow
through the glass tube. The outlet should be connected
via a loose hose to convenient drain. Flow is measured
by timing the collection of a known quantity of water in
a suitable measuring vessel.
The behaviour of the flow in the tube can be
observed by injecting a fine filament of dye into the
tube using the special dye injector provided. This
consists of a fine injector tube connected via a valve to a
dye reservoir. The assembly mounts onto a plate, which
fits on the top of the constant head tank. The injector
tube is positioned such that its outlet is in the centre of
the bell-mouth entry.
The complete apparatus is supported on a triangular
base with adjustable feet.

Figure 2 Schematic diagram of Reynolds number and transitional flow demonstration apparatus with
optional temperature control module

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TecQuipment Reynolds Number and Transitional Flow

Assembly Instructions (Refer to Figures 2

to 2e)

Temperature Control Module

The Temperature Control Module is a separate freestanding unit which can connect into the supply to the
apparatus to heat the water and control the temperature,
and thus to vary the viscosity of the water. The heated
water passes via a T to the outlet connection. If
required, excess water can bypass the apparatus to drain
via the second flow control valve fitted on the module
base. This valve is for fine control of the flow to the
apparatus without affecting the water temperature.

Electrical Supply
Connect the electrical supply for
this apparatus through a switch
or circuit-breaker.
This apparatus must be
connected to earth.
The heater unit is rated at 32 A,
only connect the apparatus with
the cable supplied.
Connect the apparatus to the electrical supply with the
cable supplied. Use the following colour-code:

Earth (E or
Live (L)
Neutral (N)

Water Supply
The cold water supply for the heater must have a
pressure of greater than 1 bar or the apparatus will not
The unit MUST NOT be used with any liquid other
than water.


Put the main assembly on the floor.

Fit the dye bottle bracket and lightly tighten the
nylon locating screws, as you may need to adjust
them later (see Figures 2a-2b).
3. Fill the lower part of the constant head tank with
the glass beads supplied. Fill the tank with beads to
a level 10 - 15 mm below the top of the bell-mouth.
Do not let beads fall into the bell-mouth. After
filling make sure that the surface of the bell-mouth
is free of beads and any other obstructions, such as
loose packing material.
4. Fit the injector tube to the dye reservoir (see
Figures 2c-2d. Adjust the dye bottle bracket so that
the injector tube is in the centre of the bell-mouth.
5. The apparatus is quite tall, so you may need to use
steps when making adjustments to the dye injector
6. Remove any packing from around the tank.
7. Stand the thermometer such that the bulb is resting
on the stilling bed.
8. Stand the apparatus in the desired position and
connect up the supply and drainpipes as shown in
Figure 2 using the flexible hoses and clips provided
with the apparatus. Note that all drain and overflow
pipes must be free draining and that access to the
discharge pipe from the experimental tube will be
required for measurement of flow.
9. Turn the dye control valve to off and pour the dye
into the dye reservoir.
10. If required, connect the temperature control module
to a suitable electrical supply. Do not switch on
until water is available. Make sure that all pipe
connections to the units are firmly secured with
hose clips.
11. Adjust the feet on the base to make sure the tube is
perfectly vertical (see Figure 2e).

Installation and Setting Up

The apparatus is free-standing and can mount onto any
suitable bench or working surface. A water supply and
drain are required so choose a convenient siting position
where these services are available. A suitable electrical
supply is required for the temperature control module.

1) Water will not flow through the heater
unless the electrical supply is connected.
2) Water will not heat up if the pressure is too

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TecQuipment Reynolds Number and Transitional Flow

Figure 2a Unscrew Bracket

Figure 2d Fit Injector

Figure 2b Refit Bracket

Figure 2e Make Sure Tube is Vertical

Figure 2c Fit Injector
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TecQuipment Reynolds Number and Transitional Flow

Page 6

Consider the case of a fluid moving along a fixed
surface such as the wall of a pipe. At some distance y
from the surface the fluid has a velocity u relative to the
surface. The relative movement causes a shear stress
which tends to slow down the motion so that the
velocity close to the wall is reduced below u. It can be
shown that the shear stress produces a velocity gradient
du/dy which is proportional to the applied stress. The
constant of proportionality is the coefficient of viscosity
and the equation is usually written:

multiplied by cross sectional area multiplied by velocity

u we may write:
Inertia forces d 2 u.u

where d is the diameter of the pipe.
Similarly the viscous forces are given by shear stress
multiplied by area so, using Equation (1), we may write:
Viscous forces


u 2

Equation (1) is derived in most textbooks and represents
a model of a situation in which layers of fluid move
smoothly over one another. This is termed viscous or
laminar flow. For such conditions experiments show
that Equation (1) is valid and that is a constant for a
given fluid at a given temperature.
It may be noted that the shear stress and the velocity
gradient have a fixed relationship, which is determined
only by the viscosity of the fluid. However, experiments
also show that this only applies at low viscosities. If the
velocity increases above a certain value, small
disturbances produce eddies in the flow causing mixing
between the high energy and low energy layers of fluid.
This is called turbulent flow and under these conditions
it is found that the relationship between shear stress and
velocity gradient varies depending on many factors in
addition to the viscosity of the fluid. The nature of the
flow is entirely different since the interchange of energy
between the layers now depends on the strength of the
eddies (and thus on the inertia of the fluid) rather than
simply on the viscosity. Equation (1) still applies but the
coefficient no longer represents the viscosity of the
fluid. It is now called the Eddy Viscosity and is no
longer constant for a given fluid and temperature. Its
value depends on the upstream conditions in the flow
and is much greater than the coefficient of viscosity for
the fluid. It may be noted that this implies an increase in
shear stress for a given velocity and so the losses in the
flow are much greater than for laminar conditions.
What, then, determines whether the flow will be
laminar or turbulent in a given situation? We have seen
that laminar flow is the result of viscous forces and that
turbulent flow is in some way related to inertia forces.
This was realised by Reynolds who postulated that the
nature of flow depended on the ratio of inertia to
viscous forces. This led to the derivation of a nondimensional variable, now called Reynolds number Re
which expresses this ratio.
On physical grounds we may say that the inertia
forces are proportional to mass multiplied by velocity
change divided by time. Since mass divided by time is
the mass flow rate and this is equal to density

Dividing the inertia forces by the viscous forces we

obtain Reynolds number as:

d 2u 2 du


The term / is called the kinematic viscosity, , and it
is often convenient to write Equation (4) as:



Note that the previous equations can also be derived by

dimensional analysis but in either case it should be
remembered that Re represents the ratio of inertia to
viscous forces.
The important discovery made by Reynolds was that
for normal flow in a pipe, the transition between laminar
and turbulent flow always occurs at approximately the
same value of Re, irrespective of the fluid and the size
of the pipe. This, therefore, enables prediction of flow
conditions in pipes of any size carrying the fluid. It must
be appreciated, however, that there is never a precise
point at which transition between laminar and turbulent
flow occurs.
Consider the case of increasing velocity in a pipe.
Initially the viscous forces dominate and the flow is
laminar. As velocity increases occasional eddies form
but these are quite quickly damped out by viscous
effects. Further increase in velocity is accompanied by
an increase in the number of eddies until a point is
reached where the complete flow is subject to turbulent
mixing and can be considered fully turbulent. Transition
from fully laminar to fully turbulent flow may occur
interspersed with periods of quite steady laminar flow.
The final transition to fully turbulent flow tends to be
more well-defined since above a certain level of
turbulence becomes self-generating and a few
disturbances will set the whole flow into turbulent
Now consider the case of reducing velocity. In this
case the turbulent motions tend to continue until the
velocity is below that at which turbulent flow originally

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TecQuipment Reynolds Number and Transitional Flow

started. Eventually, however, a point is reached when

the viscous forces damp out the eddies and the flow
reverts quite quickly to laminar. This behaviour can be
demonstrated by flow visualisation and also by
measuring head losses along pipes.
As an example, Figure 3 shows the variation in head
loss with velocity for a smooth pipe. On increasing the
velocity, transition occurs between points A and B, and
for decreasing flow it occurs between points C and D.
There is a reluctance of the flow to change from one
condition to the other and this causes the hysteresis
shown in Figure 3. Generally point D is the most welldefined and it is normally accepted that this transition
from turbulent back to laminar flow occurs at a
Reynolds number between 2000 and 2300. The
Reynolds numbers at points A, B and C depend on the
entry conditions and roughness of the pipe. Typically,
point A may represent a Reynolds number between
2000 and 2500 but if the entry is carefully controlled
and the pipe very smooth, laminar flow may continue up
to much higher values. The range over which laminar
flow occurs may be extended by eliminating sources of
turbulence but the reverse in not true: irrespective of the
level of turbulence at entry, the flow always returns to
laminar below a Reynolds number of about 2000. Thus
it may be said that below this value turbulent flow
cannot exist, but above it the flow may be either laminar
or turbulent depending on the entry conditions.

Figure 3 Variation of head loss with velocity for

flow along a pipe
This behaviour is demonstrated and observed using the
Reynolds Number and Turbulent Flow apparatus. In
considering the results it must be remembered that the
transition points are not always clearly defined and that
values of Reynolds number must be expected to vary
somewhat from one test to another.

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flow and again record the temperature and flow

General Test Procedures

For normal demonstrations a controlled supply of cold
water from the laboratory can be used. Details of how to
use the temperature control module are given later in
this section.
The basic procedure, which can be used for all tests,
demonstrates how the conditions in the pipe vary with
flow velocity and that the changes occur over a range of
velocity (and therefore of Reynolds number). The
Reynolds number can be calculated for each condition
from the pipe diameter, velocity and the viscosity of
water for the particular temperature of test. Sample
calculations are given later in this section. The basic
procedure is as follows:







Set up the apparatus as previously described, turn

on the water supply, and partially open the
discharge valve at the base of the apparatus.
Adjust the water supply until the level in the
constant head tank is just above the overflow pipe
and is maintained at this level by a small flow down
the overflow pipe. This is the condition required for
all tests and at different flow rates through the tube;
the supply will need to be adjusted to maintain it.
At any given condition the overflow should only be
just sufficient to maintain a constant head in the
Open and adjust the dye injector valve to obtain a
fine filament of dye in the flow down the glass
tube. If the dye is dispersed in the tube reduced the
water flow rate by closing the discharge valve and
adjusting the supply as necessary to maintain the
constant head. A laminar flow condition should be
achieved in which the filament of dye passes down
the complete length of the tube without disturbance.
Slowly increase the flow rate by opening the
discharge valve until disturbances of the dye
filament are noted (see Figure 4b). This can be
regarded as the starting point of transition to
turbulent flow. Increase the water supply as
required to maintain constant head conditions.
Record the temperature of the water using the
thermometer, then measure the flow rate by timing
the collection of a known quantity of water from
the discharge pipe.
Further increase the flow rate as described above
until the disturbances increase such that the dye
filament becomes rapidly diffused as shown in
Figure 4c. Small eddies will be noted just above the
point where the dye filament completely breaks
down. This can be regarded as the onset of fully
turbulent flow. Record the temperature and flow
rate as in step (5).
Now decrease the flow rate slowly until the dye just
returns to a steady filament representing laminar

Figure 4 Typical flow patterns at various flow


Effect of Varying Viscosity

The viscosity of water varies with the temperature as
shown in Figure 5. The variations are quite large over
the range 10 - 40C and this can be used to demonstrate
the effect of viscosity on the velocities at which
transition occurs.
The temperature may be varied either by using the
Temperature Control Module, or by using an existing
hot water supply. The following procedure relates to use
of the temperature control module:
1. Connect the unit as shown in Figure 2. Switch on the
electrical supply. Set the temperature control to
MAX. Turn on the water supply. Adjust the flow
control valve on the left of the unit, and the
discharge valve on the apparatus, to achieve
turbulent flow conditions in the pipe and a consistent
head in the tank. Adjust the water supply to the unit
as necessary to achieve these conditions. This
procedure will ensure that there is adequate flow to
cover the required range of flow rates at any
2. Adjust the temperature control to obtain the required
temperature of water in the apparatus. Note that the
temperature control affects the flow rate. Once the
temperature has been set, the temperature control

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TecQuipment Reynolds Number and Transitional Flow

should not be adjusted; control of flow rate is

achieved by using the flow control valve.
3. When the temperature has stabilised, follow the
procedure in the previous section for determining the
flow rate at each transition point. Use the flow
control valve on the temperature control module to
control the supply flow to the apparatus as
4. The procedure can be repeated for different
temperatures by adjusting the temperature control.

This value and the value of 1822 for return to laminar

flow for decreasing velocity, is in reasonable agreement
with the value of 2000 usually quoted.
The results in Table 1 are plotted in Figure 6 to show
the variation in transition Reynolds number with
kinematic viscosity. Generally it can be seen that the
value of Re for each transition point is roughly constant
and there is no definite variation with viscosity. There is
a fairly high level of scatter due to the variable nature of
the flow and the difficulty in determining transition
points by flow visualisation.
However, the results demonstrate that Re is
approximately constant for a range of viscosities.
Comparison of the velocities in Table 1 shows that at
any given condition the velocity decreases as the
viscosity decreases. The results demonstrate quite well
that the nature of flow depends on Reynolds number
and not simply on the flow velocity. Transition from
laminar to turbulent flow is seen to take place over a
range of Re from about 1900 to 2500, which is in
agreement with that expected from the data shown in
Figure 3.

Figure 5 Kinematic viscosity of water at various

Table 1 shows a typical set of results for four different
temperatures. Sample calculations for the first set of
results are as follows:
Velocity u =

200 10 6
0.172 m s
6 2 10 6 10.3

From Figure 5 the kinematic viscosity of water at 18C

is 1.06 106 m2/s, hence from Equation (5):

Figure 6 Typical transition numbers for various


0.172 12 10 3
1.06 10 6

Temp (C)


Time for 200 ml (s)

u (m/s)

10 (m /s)



Just turbulent (up)

Fully turbulent (up)
Fully laminar (down)
Just turbulent (up)
Fully turbulent (up)
Fully laminar (down)
Just turbulent (up)
Fully turbulent (up)
Fully laminar (down)
Just turbulent (up)
Fully turbulent (up)
Fully laminar (down)





Table 1 Typical results for varying temperature and viscosity

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