Laminar separation, reattachment, and transition of the flow over a downstream-facing step

R. J. Goldstein, V. L. Eriksen, R. M. Olson, E. R.G. Eckert

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131 Scopus citations


Results of an experimental investigation of the laminar flow of air over a downstream-facing step are presented. The experiments include visual observations of smoke filaments (in the viscous layer), qualitative velocity fluctuation measurements, and mean velocity profiles. Results are reported over a range of 0.36 - 1.02 cm in step height, 0.61 - 2.44 ml sec in free stream velocity at the step, and 0.16 - 0.51 cm in boundary layer displacement thickness at the step. Laminar flow to reattachment of a free shear layer is observed for subsonic flow and two criteria for which transition to turbulence at reattachment exists are presented. The laminar reattachment length is not a constant number of step heights as for turbulent flow, but varies with Reynolds number and boundary layer thickness at the step. The shape of the velocity profile at reattachment is found to be similar to the shape of a laminar boundary layer profile at separation and the boundary layer profiles downstream of reattachment are similar’ to those in a laminar boundary layer developing toward separation except that they are traversed in the reverse sense.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)732-739
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Fluids Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1970


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