Prandtl–Meyer function


This entry marks fxSolver’s 2000th equation milestone and is a kind contribution by Reddit user :

In aerodynamics, the Prandtl–Meyer function describes the angle through which a flow can turn isentropically for the given initial and final Mach number. It is the maximum angle through which a sonic (M = 1) flow can be turned around a convex corner. For an ideal gas, it is expressed as shown here.

By convention, the constant of integration is selected such that ν(1)=0.

As an object moves through a gas, the gas molecules are deflected around the object. If the speed of the object is much less than the speed of sound of the gas, the density of the gas remains constant and the flow of gas can be described by conserving momentum and energy. As the speed of the objects increases towards the speed of sound, we must consider compressibility effects on the gas. The density of the gas varies locally as the gas is compressed by the object. When an object moves faster than the speed of sound, and there is an abrupt decrease in the flow area, shock waves are generated. If the flow area increases, however, a different flow phenomenon is observed. If the increase is abrupt, we encounter a centered expansion fan.

There are some marked differences between shock waves and expansion fans. Across a shock wave, the Mach number decreases, the static pressure increases, and there is a loss of total pressure because the process is irreversible. Through an expansion fan, the Mach number increases, the static pressure decreases and the total pressure remains constant. Expansion fans are isentropic.

The calculation of the expansion fan involves the use of the Prandtl-Meyer function. This function is derived from conservation of mass, momentum, and energy for very small (differential) deflections. The Prandtl-Meyer function is denoted by the Greek letter nu on the slide and is a function of the Mach number M and the ratio of specific heats gam of the gas.

The amount of the increase depends on the incoming Mach number and the angle of the expansion. The physical interpretation of the Prandtl-Meyer function is that it is the angle through which you must expand a sonic (M=1) flow to obtain a given Mach number. The value of the Prandtl-Meyer function is therefore called the Prandtl-Meyer angle.

Related formulas


νMPrandtl–Meyer function (rad)
γspecific heat ratio (dimensionless)
MMach number of the flow (dimensionless)