Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 741–747 | Cite as

Transition from laminar to turbulent flow in liquid filled microtubes

  • K. V. Sharp
  • R. J. Adrian


The transition to turbulent flow is studied for liquids of different polarities in glass microtubes having diameters between 50 and 247 µm. The onset of transition occurs at Reynolds numbers of ~1,800–2,000, as indicated by greater-than-laminar pressure drop and micro-PIV measurements of mean velocity and rms velocity fluctuations at the centerline. Transition at anomalously low values of Reynolds number was never observed. Additionally, the results of more than 1,500 measurements of pressure drop versus flow rate confirm the macroscopic Poiseuille flow result for laminar flow resistance to within −1% systematic and ±2.5% rms random error for Reynolds numbers less than 1,800.


Reynolds Number Pressure Drop Friction Factor Flow Resistance Slip Length 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Microsystems Technology Office, Microflumes and Composite Computer-Aided-Design Programs, Grant # F33615-98-1-2853.


  1. Baggett J, Trefethen L (1997) Low-dimensional models of subcritical transition to turbulence. Phys Fluids 9:1043–1053CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Choi SB, Barron RF, Warrington RO (1991) Fluid flow and heat transfer in microtubes. In: Micromechanical sensors, actuators, and systems. ASME, New York, pp 123–134Google Scholar
  3. Christensen KT, Soloff S, Adrian RJ (2000) PIV Sleuth: integrated particle image velocimetry interrogation/validation software. TAM Report No. 943, Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignGoogle Scholar
  4. Darbyshire AG, Mullin T (1995) Transition to turbulence in constant-mass-flux pipe flow. J Fluid Mech 289:83–114Google Scholar
  5. Draad AA, Kuiken GDC, Nieuwstadt FTM (1998) Laminar-turbulent transition in pipe flow for Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids. J Fluid Mech 377:267–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Flockhart SM, Dhariwal RS (1998) Experimental and numerical investigation into the flow characteristics of channels etched in 〈100〉 silicon. J Fluids Eng 120:291–295Google Scholar
  7. Gad-el-Hak M (1999) The fluid mechanics of microdevices—The Freeman Scholar Lecture. J Fluids Eng 121:5–33Google Scholar
  8. Goldstein RJ, Adrian RJ, Kried DK (1969) Turbulent and transition pipe flow of dilute aqueous polymer solutions. IEC Fundamentals 8:498–502Google Scholar
  9. Jiang XN, Zhou ZY, Li Y, Ye XY (1995) Micro-fluid flow in microchannel. In: Eighth International Conference on Solid-state sensors and actuators, and Eurosensors IX, Stockholm, Sweden. IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, pp 317–320Google Scholar
  10. Judy J, Maynes D, Webb B (2002) Characterization of frictional pressure drop for liquid flows through microchannels. Int J Heat Mass Transfer 45:3477–3489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lundbladh A, Henningson D, Reddy S (1994) Threshold amplitudes for transition in channel flows. In: Hussaini M, Gatski B, Jackson T (eds) Transition, turbulence and combustion, vol 1. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 309–318Google Scholar
  12. Mala GM, Li D (1999) Flow characteristics of water in microtubes. Int J Heat Fluid Flow 20:142–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Obot N (2002) Toward a better understanding of friction and heat/mass transfer in microchannels—a literature review. Microscale Thermophys Eng 6:155–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Olsen MG, Adrian RJ (2000) Out-of-focus effects an particle image visibility and correlation in microscopic PIV. Exp Fluids 29:5166–5174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. O’Sullivan P, Breuer K (1994) Transient growth in circular pipe flow. II. Nonlinear development. Phys Fluids 6:3652–3664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Papautsky I, Brazzle J, Ameel T, Frazier AB (1999) Laminar fluid behavior in microchannels using micropolar fluid theory. Sensors Actuators 73:101–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Parry W, Bellows J, Gallagher J, Harvey A (2000) ASME international steam tables for industrial use. ASME, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Patel VC, Head MR (1969) Some observations on skin friction and velocity profiles in fully developed pipe and channel flows. J Fluid Mech 38:181–201Google Scholar
  19. Peng X, Peterson G, Wang B (1994a) Heat transfer characteristics of water flowing through microchannels. Exp Heat Transfer 7:265–283Google Scholar
  20. Peng XF, Peterson GP, Wang BX (1994b) Frictional flow characteristics of water flowing through rectangular microchannels. Exp Heat Transfer 7:249–264Google Scholar
  21. Pfahler J, Harley J, Bau H, Zemel J (1990) Liquid transport in micron and submicron channels. Sensors Actuators A21–A23:431–434Google Scholar
  22. Pfahler J, Harley J, Bau H, Zemel J (1991) Gas and liquid flow in small channels. In: Cho D, Warrington Jr, R, Pisano A, Bau H, Friedrich X, Jara-Almonte J, Liburdy J (eds) Dynamic Systems and Control, vol 32, Micromechanical sensors, actuators and systems. ASME, New York, pp 49–60Google Scholar
  23. Pfund D, Rector D, Shekarriz A, Popescu A, Welty J (2000) Pressure drop measurements in a microchannel. AIChE J 46:1496–1507Google Scholar
  24. Qu W, Mala GM, Li D (2000) Pressure-driven water flows in trapezoidal silicon microchannels. Int J Heat Mass Transfer 43:353–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sharp K (2001) Experimental investigation of liquid and particle-laden flows in microtubes. PhD thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignGoogle Scholar
  26. Sharp K, Adrian R, Santiago J, Molho JI (2001) Liquid flows in mirochannels. In: CRC handbook of MEMS. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp 6.1–6.38Google Scholar
  27. Sobhan C, Garimella SV (2001) A comparative analysis of studies on heat transfer and fluid flow in microchannels. Microscale Thermophys Eng 5:293–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Travis K, Todd B, Evans D (1997) Departure from Navier–Stokes hydrodynamics in confined liquids. Phys Rev E 55(4): 4288–4295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Trefethen L, Trefethen A, Reddy S, Driscoll T (1993) Hydrodynamic stability without eigenvalues. Science 261(5121):578–584Google Scholar
  30. Trethway D, Meinhart C (2002) Apparent fluid slip at hydrophobic microchannel walls. Phys Fluids 14:L9–L12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tumin A (1999) Onset of turbulence in circular pipe flows. In: Fasel H, Saric W (eds) Laminar–turbulent transition. IUTAM Symposium, Sedona, AZ. Springer, New York Berlin Heidelberg, pp 377–382Google Scholar
  32. White FM (1994) Fluid mechanics. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Wilding P, Pfahler J, Bau HH, Zemel JN, Kricka LJ (1994) Manipulation and flow of biological fluids in straight channels micromachined in silicon. Clin Chem 40:43–47PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Wu P, Little WA (1983) Measurements of friction factor for the flow of gases in very fine channels used for micro miniature Joule–Thompson refrigerators. Cryogenics 23:273–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wygnanski IJ, Champagne FH (1973) On transition in a pipe. Part 1. The origin of puffs and slugs and the flow in a turbulent slug. J Fluid Mech 59:281–335Google Scholar
  36. Yu D, Warrington R, Barron R, Ameel T (1995) An experimental and theoretical investigation of fluid flow and heat transfer in microtubes. In: ASME/JSME Thermal Engineering Conference, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, vol 1. ASME, New York, pp 523–530Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Theoretical and Applied MechanicsUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

Personalised recommendations