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Flow visualization techniques and their use-RH5001A53- Atish Kumar-CIV 208

Flow visualization techniques and their use-RH5001A53- Atish Kumar-CIV 208

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Published by: Atish Kumar on Nov 14, 2010
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Term Paper Fluid Mechanics

crv 208

Topic: - Flow visualization techniques and their use

Submitted To

Mr. Vikrant Sharma

Submitted By


Reg. No.:- 4100070015 Roll No.:- RH5001A53

Class: - B-Tech-Civil (2nd Year)


I would like to express my gratitude to all those who gave me the possibility to complete this term paper. I want to thank the Department of CIVIL ENGINEERING of LOVELY PROFESSIONAL UNIVERSITY for giving me permission to commence this Term paper, to do the necessary research work and to use departmental data. I would also like to thank to Mr. VIKRANT SHARMA, Lecturer in constructional material, who gave and confirmed this assignment and encouraged me to go ahead with my term paper.

I am finally thank of our friends whose help, valuable suggestions and encouragement helped me in all the time of research for and writing of this term paper.



S.N. Description Page No.
1. Introduction 1
2. What we need to visualize 2
3. Visualization Techniques 3
4 Surface flow visualization 3
• Surface Oil Film 4
• Liquid crystals and temperature sensitive paints 4
• Pressure sensitive paint (PSP) 5
• Flow Visualization with Special techniques 5
5 Particle Tracer Methods 6
• Smoke Visualization of the Flow 6
• Visualization using dye 7
• Visualization by different small particles 8
• The gas bubble visualization 8
6 Optical Methods 9
• Shadowgraph method 9
• Schlieren method 10
• Interferometry 11
7 Uses of Flow Visualization 12
8 Reference 13 Introduction

Flow visualization in fluid dynamics is used to make the flow patterns visible, in order to get a qualitative or quantitative information on them.

A model Cessna with helium-filled bubbles showing path lines of the wingtip vortices.

Flow visualization is the study of methods to display dynamic behaviour in liquids and gases. The field dates back at least to the mid-1400's, where Leonardo Da Vinci sketched images of fine particles of sand and wood shavings which had been dropped into flowing liquids. Since then, laboratory flow visualization has become more and more exact, with careful control of the particulate size and distribution. Advances in photography has also helped extend our understanding of how fluids flow under various circumstances.

Leonardo Da Vinci's Hand drawings

Naturally occurring flow visualization


What we need to visualize


Pathlines are the trajectories that individual fluid particles follow. These can be thought of as a "recording" of the path a fluid element in the flow takes over a certain period. The direction the path takes will be determined by the streamlines of the fluid at each moment in time.


Streaklines are the locus of points of all the fluid particles that have passed continuously through a particular spatial point in the past. Dye steadily injected into the fluid at a fixed point extends along a streakline.


Timelines are the lines formed by a set of fluid particles that were marked at a previous instant in time, creating a line or a curve that is displaced in time as the particles move.


Streamlines are a family of curves that are instantaneously tangent to the velocity vector of the flow. These show the direction a fluid element will travel in at any point in time.

Steady Flow:

a flow field which does not change with time. For steady flow, streaklines, pathlines, and streamlines coincide.

Particle Advection:

Computing the motion of particles through a flow field


The curl of the velocity field, giving the magnitude and direction of angular velocity for each particle in the velocity field

Pathline, Streamline, Streakline, Timeline

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Particles, released from fixed point

Tartqent path through Ihe vec1:or field

P,artiiCies reteased aft same time instant


Visualization Techniques

1. Surface flow visualization

This reveals the flow streamlines in the limit as a solid surface is approached. Colored oil applied to the surface of a wind tunnel model provides one example (the oil responds to the surface shear stress and forms a pattern)

Surface flow visualization over a 5 degree ramp.

Surface flow visualization over a 25 degree ramp with test section unstart.

Surface flow visualization past a cylinder.

The 5 degree ramp with micro vortex generators.

The 25 degree ramp with micro vortex generators.

The cylinder with micro vortex generators.


• Surface Oil Film

Oil film or dots on the model surface enable obtaining a picture of the flow pattern at the surface of the model placed in the wind tunnel quickly and easily. The special mixture can be prepared from an appropriate oil and fine pigment (AI203; T i02, powder, fluorescent dye, colouring pigments, graphite). The technique allows observation of the lines of separation and reattachment of the flow to the body.

Visualization with Ti02 + oil on the surface around two vertical cylinders fixed on the plate in the large wind tunnel

Oil flow visualization, airflow on the end wall of a turbine blade cascade

• Liquid crystals and temperature sensitive paints

A surface-temperature distribution can be gained by coating a test model with cholestric liquid crystals. If they are illuminated with white light under a certain angle of incidence, liquid crystals reflect only one light wavelength at each viewing angle, depending on small temperature changes in the crystal sheet. Liquid crystals are able to respond to finer changes of temperature in the boundary layer, due to laminar-to-turbulent transitions or indicate the place of shock waves. The colours of liquid crystals are reverse if the temperature changes in the opposite direction. Therefore, liquid crystals are very attractive for boundary-layer studies. Model to be tested should be made of a material with low heat conductivity and coated with black paint as base. Fig. demonstrates the application of liquid crystals for hot streams visualization in a little smoke wind tunnel.

Flow visualization in the small wind tunnel with liquid crystals


• Pressure sensitive paint (PSP)

The spatially continuous pressure and temperature distribution on aerodynamic test surfaces is important for understanding complex flow mechanisms and comparison with predictions of computational-fluid-dynamics models. Conventional pressure measurements are based on pressure taps and electronically scanned transducers. Pressure taps provide pressure information only at discrete points.


tN'a,vIlH Slnkos, CFD SohJl~tolii

A comparison of pressure results between PSP (right side of model) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (left side)

• Flow Visualization with Special techniques

Third group of visualization methods is based on two principles: introducing a foreign invisible substance into the incompressible flow and visualizing the density variations in the flow by optical methods. The foreign substance in this case is energy transferred to certain portions of the flow to increase the energy level (spark, electron beam and glow discharge methods) and make artificial density variations. Such portions of the flow have an altered density and can be visualized by the optical methods.

They are applied to visualize the rarefied gases that are for several reasons distinguished from the ordinary compressible flows. The gas flow with extremely high level of kinetic energy becomes luminous in a stagnation point where the kinetic energy is transferred into heat. That heat exits

electronic transition in the and the flow itself is visible.


Flow visualization by electronic beam in hypersonic wind tunnel for M =10


2. Particle Tracer methods

The visualization technique of streamlines, filament lines or particle paths, which injects some foreign material into a flow as a tracer is the most popular one and has been widely used over a long period, up to now. These three curves coincide if the flow field is stationary. But in the flow that depends on space and time as well, the three types of curves are different from one another. Which curves will be visualized depends on: where the particles are introduced, the length of the exposure time and the reference system from which the flow is observed or photographed.

There is no difference between liquid and gaseous flows. The tracer may be smoke, dye, pigment, milk, air or hydrogen bubbles, ozone, fluorescent dye, powder, sawdust, aluminium particle, bakelite etc.

• Smoke Visualization of the Flow:-

Recent developments indicate that smoke visualization in wind tunnel, one of the oldest flow visualization techniques, will continue as an important experimental tool in the study of complex flow dynamic phenomena. Improvements in generation and injection of smoke as well as in lighting (laser as a light source), in techniques of acquisition and computation have continued to increase the scientific value of this method. Similar results are obtained by flow visualizations with fog and vapour.

The smoke can be very useful in a wind tunnel with low turbulence. There exists no upper limit of speed for smoke line visualization (it was possible to extend the range of smoke line visualization even to supersonic flow velocities).




Flow visualization in the VTI smoke wind tunnel (a and b) and in Onera smoke tunnel (c)


Flow visualization with smoke from ship chimney in small subsonic wind tunnel

• Visualization using dye

The visualization of the liquid flow patterns by ejection of dye is an analogy of the smoke visualization technique. The mixing of smoke and air is more intense than that of dye and water. A dye for the flow visualization of filament line has to fulfil several requirements: stability with respect to diffusion, the same specific weight as the working fluid and high contrast. Dye can be injected in a tested flow either from a small ejector tube placed at a desired position or from small orifices, that are provided in the wall of a model (Fig. 6a), without the component perpendicular to the model surface. Dye can also be generated in the flow, without disturbing the flow.

Seeding TLibe

Pitching Airfoil

ceo Camera /'

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Laser S ource


• Visualization by different small particles

Adding small particles in the flow (water or air) can enable visualization and measuring of the flow velocity. The fundamental assumption is that the velocity of the particles and fluid is identical. The particle tracer can be either solid, liquid or gaseous and the fluid liquid or gaseous, for e.g.: dust, magnesium (Mg), A1203, Ti02, aluminium (Fig.8) and polystyrene or cosmetic powder, licopodium, hostaflon, cigarette smoke, metaldehyde, atomized DOP, glass sphere, marble dust, oil drops, water drops, hydrogen, gas, helium bubbles, ... The diameter of the particle is between 0.1 to 20 microns.

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Flow visualization around hydrofoil (a) violet aniline dye, (b) experimental and numerical path line

visualization (layers opacity 50 %)

• The gas bubble visualization

Gas bubbles visualization is a tracer method where tracer particles have lower (in the water) or density similar (in the air) to the flow. The observation of such gaseous tracers in a gaseous flow requires the use of optical visualization methods. The gas bubbles change their shape during the motion and in consequence, the drag coefficient of these gaseous tracer particles is not only a function of the velocity difference between the fluid and particle, but also a function of the deforming forces acting on the particle. The gas bubbles can be injected in the flow or generated by electrolysis.


3. Optical Methods

Some flows reveal their patterns by way of changes in their optical refractive index. These are visualized by optical methods known as the shadowgraph, schlieren photography, and interferometry. More directly, dyes can be added to (usually liquid) flows to measure concentrations; typically employing the light attenuation or laser-induced fluorescence techniques.

• Shadowgraph method

The oldest and the simplest of all optical methods for flow visualization is the shadow graph .Fig. 1 shows a typical setup for shadow methods. A light beam passing through the wind tunnel test section is parallel. A spherical mirror or lens makes the light parallel. The light source should be small to ensure good sharpness of the obtained image. Observation and recording the deflected beam parts are in the perpendicular plane screen at a distance of I from the test section.


Figure 1. Schematic arrangement of the shadowgraph system, deflection of light rays in a field of the variable o2nfoy2

Shadowgraph visualization around a sphere


Typical shadow graph images showing the spherical tipped cylinder mounted on the flat plate


• Schlieren method

As mentioned before, the Schlieren method is sensitive to the changes of the first derivative of density (or refractive index) and it can record the angular deflection of the disturbed ray with respect to the undisturbed in a transparent medium with local non homogeneities.

Today the Schlieren method is the most frequently used in aerodynamic laboratories, since it is relatively simple and very useful.

If a parallel beam of light passes trough the air where there is a density gradient normal to the beam direction, the light travels more slowly where the density is greater and the beam is refracted towards the region of greater density.

Schlieren effects around a cone and a slanted slot in the bottom wall for Moo= 0.8 in the supersonic wind tunnel

Rainbow Schlieren

Schieren system with laser as a light and the schlieren effect around a cone for Moo = 1.1


• Interferometry

In most gas dynamics applications, it is useful to know flow density changes in wind tunnels, shock tubes osupersonic jets. The phase alteration beam passing through a disturbed section of a tested field can be compared with an undisturbed beam. The effects of interference make the basis of interferometry. The application of this principle in visualizing compressible flow fields is as old as the schlieren method.

a. Classical interferometry

The most used type of interferometers tests is the Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI). Two light beams (test and reference ones) in the MZI are separated by its four plates. This instrument is suitable for quantitative density measurements in large wind tunnels. It requires an extremely high degree of mechanical precision and complexity of construction. Mechanical and optical tolerances are in order of a wavelength or below. This makes the instrument expensive and its cost grows rapidly with increasing the diameter of the desired size of the field of view.


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Mach Zehnder interferometer

b. Holographic Interferometry

Holographic interferometry is an optical method that enables complete flow field testing. The method is non-contact (it does not disturb the flow field) and is used for testing different objects and phenomena.

The flow density can be measured directly using interferometry. The greatest advantage of holographic interferometry, in relation to the schlieren method, is the fact that it provides complete information stored in a single plate, allowing a postponement selection of specific types of flow visualization.


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J.. -, b) Arrangement for holograms recording a) and reconstruction b)


Uses of Flow Visualization

• Understanding flow phenomenon

• Verifying model or theory results

• Easier measurements for designing

• To get a priori knowledge of solution

In computational fluid dynamics the numerical solution of the governing equations can yield all the fluid properties in space and time. This overwhelming amount of information must be displayed in a meaningful form. Thus flow visualization is equally important in computational as in experimental fluid dynamics.



• www.vti.mod.gov.rs!ntp!rad2007/2-07!rist/rist.pdf

• http://caos.iisc.ernet.in/ hpg! students! francis! Students talk! kiran fv.ppt

• http://web.cs.wpi.edu/ ~matt/courses!cs563!talks!flowvis!flowvis.html

• http://en.wikipedia.org/wikilFlow visualization


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