A Simple and Effective Understanding of Laminar Flow and Turbulent Flow

Laminar Flow and Turbulent Flow
Graphic courtesy of Wikimedia.org
Two very important terms to understand when studying flowing fluids are "turbulent flow" and "laminar flow".

Turbulent flow, caused by excessive kinetic energy in parts of a fluid flow, undergoes mixing and lateral irregularities characterized by eddies, recirculation, and apparent randomness. Fluid speed magnitude and direction changes chaotically in turbulent flow.

In contrast to turbulent flow, laminar flow occurs when a fluid flows in parallel "layers" with no interaction between the layers. When flowing at low velocities, fluids tend to flow without lateral (sideways) mixing, and adjacent layers glide past one another, analogous to playing cards sliding between others in a deck.

The video below provides a very simple, but very effective, demonstration of laminar and turbulent flow.

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