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11/3/2016 (9)Whatisthedifferencebetweenrotationalandirrotationalflow?

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Norealflowisirrotational.Itisoneofthosesimplifyingconditionsweimposeonflow
fieldstomakethemsowecansolvethem,especiallywhenlearningfluiddynamics.Fluid
dynamicsisVERYmessyandwehavetostartoffwithlotsofsimplificationstomakesome QuestionStats
headwayinsolvingflowsandunderstandinghowfluidsbehave.
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Irrotationalflowisflowinwhichallthetinybitsoffluidaremovingalongandtranslating 6,248Views
andgoingaroundobstaclesandwhathaveyouwithouteveryrotatingabouttheirown LastAskedJan28
infinitesimalcentersofgravity.Irrotationalflowcanonlypersistifthereisnoviscosityand
Edits
allrealfluidshaveviscosity.

Weparticularlyliketousethesimplificationofirrotationalflowwhendealingwithtwo
dimensionalpotentialflow.

Velocityisavectorandifweapplythevectoroperatorcalledcurltothevelocityandset
thatequaltozero,thenthatisthemathematicalequivalentofmakingtheflowirrotational.
Sofarsogood.

Nowweusetheusefulmathematicalresultthatthecurlofthegradientofanythingwill
alwaysbezero.(Gradientisanothervectoroperator.)WellifcurlofViszeroandcurlof
gradientofanythingiszero,thenvelocitymustbeequaltothegradientofsomething(if
theflowisirrotational).Sureenough,wecansetvelocityequaltothegradientof
something.Wecallthatsomethingthepotentialfunction.Thatswhyweendupcalling
thiswholeportionoffluiddynamicspotentialflow.

Next,wenoticeacoupleofotherniceandusefulmathresultsthatcoincidentallyconspire
tohaveusefulinterpretationinfluiddynamics.

Thedivergenceofvelocityisequaltozeroifthefluidhasaconstantdensity(is
incompressible).Thedivergenceisyetanothervectoroperatorcourtesyofthe
mathematicians.Wehavesubstitutedgradientofthepotentialfunctioninplaceof
Velocity.Sowehavedivergenceofgradientofpotentialfunction=0forncompressible
andirrotationalflow.ThatdivergenceofgradientsimplifiestotheLaplacian.

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11/3/2016 (9)Whatisthedifferencebetweenrotationalandirrotationalflow?Quora
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SonowourassumptionsaboutirrotationalflowANDincompressibleflowhaveledtothe
equationthattheLaplacianofthepotentialfunctioniszeroeverywhereintheflow.Thisis
alsocalledLaplacesequationanditcomesupallovertheplaceinphysics.Itdescribesthe
flowofheatinasolid.Itdescribesdiffusionofasolventinasolute.

WealreadyknewhowtosolveLaplacesEquation.Sowecangototownwithallthis
potentialflowbusiness.WejustuseknownsolutionstoLaplacesequation.Alloftheseflow
fieldsworkaslongaswekeepthefluidincompressibleandirrotational.Sure,wecanlive
withthat.Thatshowafluidwouldbehaveifithadnoviscosityanditsdensitywere
constant.Itsnotreal.Norealfluidbehavesthatway.Butwiththerightunderstanding,
wecanusethisapproximationinlotsofplaces.Wecanlearnhowfluidsbehave(withthe
appropriaterestrictions).Veryuseful.

Turnonviscosityandthisallgoesoutthewindow.Nowwehaverotationalflow.Things
getawholelotmoremessymathematically.AllthatstuffIjustdescribedwithcurlsand
gradientsanddivergencesandLaplaciansthatstheeasystuff.FluidDynamicsis
freakingcomplicated.
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SwapnilMaddula,IlovePhysics
WrittenMar25

Rotationistheangularmotionofafluidelementaboutit'sowncenter.

Asforarotationalflow,itisprettyobviousthatthefluidelementsarerotating,butIagain
emphasizethattheyarerotatingabouttheirownaxis.

Forabetterunderstanding,consideraflowthroughastraightchannel:Somethinglike
this,butmoreidealized(Icouldgetnothingbetter)

Wheretheflowislaminarandtherearenodisturbances.Now,

Istheflowthroughthechannelrotationalorirrotational?

Thechannelisstraight,thewatermovessteadilyalongthelengthofthechannel,from
intuitiontheflowmustbeirrotational,Right?

RightandWrong,letmetellyouwhy.Firstletustakealookoftheflownearthewalls.
Thereareviscousforcesactingonthefluid,sothereisaboundarylayer.Thevelocity
distributionissomethinglikethis

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11/3/2016 (9)Whatisthedifferencebetweenrotationalandirrotationalflow?Quora

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Thisvelocitygradienttendstorotatethefluidelement.Hencetheflowisrotationalinside
theboundarylayer.Thelargerthegradient,largertheangularvelocity.

Nowifmoveoutsidetheboundarylayer,(i.efartherfromthewalls,towardsthecenter)
wecanseethatthevelocityisprettymuchconstant.Thereisnogradientandhencethere
isnorotation.

Case(ii)

Consideraflowofwaterinatankwhichrotatesaboutitsowncenterandhasbeenfora
longtime.Now,viscosityforcedthewaterintorigidbodyrotation.

Again,istheflowrotational,orirrotational?

Theflowisirrotationalforthemostpart,thoughitmovesinaspiralfashion,thefluid
elementitselfdoesn'trotate.Thoughatthecenterofthetank,theangularvelocityofthe
fluidelementaboutitsownaxisbecomesveryhigh,andhencetheflowisrotationalatthe
center.
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