NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Boundary-layer linear stability theoryMost fluid flows are turbulent rather than laminar and the reason for this was studied. One of the earliest explanations was that laminar flow is unstable, and the linear instability theory was first developed to explore this possibility. A series of early papers by Rayleigh produced many notable results concerning the instability of inviscid flows, such as the discovery of inflectional instability. Viscosity was commonly thought to act only to stabilize the flow, and flows with convex velocity profiles appeared to be stable. The investigations that led to a viscous theory of boundary layer instability was reported. The earliest application of linear stability theory to transition prediction calculated the amplitude ratio of the most amplified frequency as a function of Reynolds number for a Blasius boundary layer, and found that this quantity had values between five and nine at the observed Ret. The experiment of Schubauer and Skramstad (1947) completely reversed the prevailing option and fully vindicated the Gottingen proponents of the theory. This experiment demonstrated the existence of instability waves in a boundary layer, their connection with transition, and the quantitative description of their behavior by the theory of Tollmien and Schlichting. It is generally accepted that flow parameters such as pressure gradient, suction and heat transfer qualitatively affect transition in the manner predicted by the linear theory, and in particular that a flow predicted to be stable by the theory should remain laminar. The linear theory, in the form of the e9, or N-factor is today in routine use in engineering studies of laminar flow. The stability theory to boundary layers with pressure gradients and suction was applied. The only large body of numerical results for exact boundary layer solutions before the advent of the computer age by calculating the stability characteristics of the Falkner-Skan family of velocity profiles are given. When the digital computer reached a stage of development which permit the direct solution of the primary differential equations, numerical results were obtained from the linear theory during the next 10 years for many different boundary layer flows: three dimensional boundary layers; free convention boundary layers; compressible boundary layers; boundary layers on compliant walls; a recomputation of Falkner-Skan flows; unsteady boundary layers; and heated wall boundary layers.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Mack, L. M.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 12, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 1984
Publication Information
Publication: AGARD Spec. Course on Stability and Transition of Laminar Flow
Subject Category
Fluid Mechanics And Heat Transfer
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Document Inquiry

Available Downloads

There are no available downloads for this record.
No Preview Available