A numerical simulation of the flow over an airfoil using the Reynolds averaged Navier-Stokes equations can be conducted on today’s supercomputers in less than a half hour for less than $1000 cost in computer time. If just one such simulation had been attempted 20 years ago on computers of that time (e. g., the IBM 704 class) and with algorithms then known, the cost in computer time would have amounted to roughly $10 million, and the results for that single flow would not be available until 10 years from now, since the computation would have taken about 30 years to complete.

Dean R. Chapman, NASA, 1977

20.1 Introduction

This chapter is short. Its purpose is to discuss the third option for the solution of viscous flows as discussed in Section 15.7, namely, the exact numerical solution of the complete Navier-Stokes equations. This option is the purview of modern compu­tational fluid dynamics—it is a state-of-the-art research activity which is currently in a rapid state of development. This subject now occupies volumes of modern literature; for a basic treatment, see the definitive text on computational fluid dynamics listed as Reference 54. We will only list a few sample calculations here.

20.2 The Approach

Return to the complete Navier-Stokes equations, as derived in Chapter 15, and re­peated and renumbered below for convenience:

These equations have been written with the time derivatives on the left-hand side and all spatial derivatives on the right-hand side. This is the form suitable to a time – dependent solution of the equations, as discussed in Chapters 13 and 16. Indeed, Equations (20.1) to (20.5) are partial differential equations which have a mathemati­cally “elliptic” behavior; that is, on a physical basis they treat flow-field information and flow disturbances that can travel throughout the flow field, in both the upstream and downstream directions. The time-dependent technique is particularly suited to such a problem.

The time-dependent solution of Equations (20.1) to (20.5) can be carried out in direct parallel to the discussion in Section 16.4. It is important for you to return to that section and review our discussion of the time-dependent solution of compressible Couette flow using MacCormack’s technique. We suggest doing this before reading further. The approach to the solution of Equations (20.1) to (20.5) for other problems is exactly the same. Therefore, we will not elaborate further here.

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