Laws of Resistance in Transitional Pipe Flows

Rory T. Cerbus, Chien Chia Liu, Gustavo Gioia, Pinaki Chakraborty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


As everyone knows who has opened a kitchen faucet, pipe flow is laminar at low flow velocities and turbulent at high flow velocities. At intermediate velocities, there is a transition wherein plugs of laminar flow alternate along the pipe with "flashes" of a type of fluctuating, nonlaminar flow that remains poorly understood. In the 19th century, Osborne Reynolds sought to connect these states of flow with quantitative "laws of resistance," whereby the fluid friction is determined as a function of the Reynolds number. While he succeeded for laminar and turbulent flows, the laws for transitional flows eluded him and remain unknown to this day. By properly distinguishing between laminar plugs and flashes in the transitional regime, we show experimentally and numerically that the law of resistance for laminar plugs corresponds to the laminar law and the law of resistance for flashes is identical to that of turbulence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number054502
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - 31 Jan 2018


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