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11.2 Why Compressible Flow is Important?

Compressible flow appears in many natural and many technological processes. Compressible flow deals, including many different material such as natural gas, nitrogen and helium, etc not such only air. For instance, the flow of natural gas in a pipe system, a common method of heating in the U.S., should be considered a compressible flow. These processes include flow of gas in the exhaust system of an internal combustion engine. The above flows that were mentioned are called internal flows. Compressible flow also includes flow around bodies such as the wings of an airplane, and is categorized as external flow. These processes include situations not expected to have a compressible flow, such as manufacturing process such as the die casting, injection molding. The die casting process is a process in which liquid metal, mostly aluminum, is injected into a mold to obtain a near final shape. The air is displaced by the liquid metal in a very rapid manner, in a matter of milliseconds, therefore the compressibility has to be taken into account. Clearly, mechanical or aero engineers are not the only ones who have to deal with some aspects of compressible flow. Even manufacturing engineers have to deal with many situations where the compressibility or compressible flow understating is essential for adequate design. Another example, control engineers who are using pneumatic systems must consider compressible flow aspects of the substances used. The compressible flow unique phenomena also appear in zoology (bird fly), geological systems, biological system (human body) etc. These systems require consideration of the unique phenomena of compressible flow. In this Chapter, a greater emphasis is on the internal flow while the external flow is treated to some extend in the next Chapter. It is recognized that the basic fluid mechanics class has a limited time devoted to these topics. Additional information (such as historical background) can be found in "Fundamentals of Compressible Flow'' by the same author on Potto Project web site.


  • Dr. Genick Bar-Meir. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or later or Potto license.