LuckyTran 
April 17, 2012 07:21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegodfather
(Post 354762)
It is said that a boundary layer separates from the surface when the inertia of the fluid is not enough to counter the viscous and pressure forces...

Specifically, the viscous drag caused by a solid boundary. Fluid viscosity is a mechanism for momentum transport, hence it's alternate name momentum diffusivity.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegodfather
(Post 354854)
For example in the case of flow past a cylinder or a sphere, a low speed fluid stream will follow the curvature and will remain attached to it.. But increasing the speed will lead to separation... Isn't it a paradox??

For low speed fluid flows, viscosity is there to help force the fluid to follow the curvature (whereas the inertia of the flow does not!). The fluid wants to move tangentially along the surface of the cylinder, it definitely does not want to curve! Even in the inviscid case, there are many interactions needed to make the flow follow a solid boundary.
Quote:
Originally Posted by truffaldino
(Post 354932)
The theory of boundary layer is an approximation where the fluid speed changes significantly only close to the surface and in the laminar flow case
ratio of the boundary layer thikness to the object size is of order 1/sqrt(Re).
In the case of spere or cylinder the flow is stationary up to Re of order 10^110^2. This means that bl size is about 1/3 to 1/10 of the object size, which is not really the boundary layer.
In the boundary layer theory the pressure does not change across the layer in direction normal to the surface, while it gradually changes along the direction parallel to the surface on the scale which is much greater than bl thikness. All this does not make sence when your bl thikness is 1/3 of the object curvature and Prandtl argumentation about decelleration of different parts of bl prior to separation simply does not work.

This discussion is referring to the formal Boundary Layer Theory by Prandtl. Boundary Layers in general do not have this restriction on their behaviour, and there is no limitation on boundary layer thickness.
For simple flows, there are engineering correlations for when and where a flow will separate and there are some models for how to treat the laminar to turbulent transition zone. The canonical example is the flat plate boundary layer. In general, transitional turbulence is a mess to deal with.
