Reynolds number (for motion of an object in a viscous fluid)


In fluid mechanics, the Reynolds number is used to help predict if flow will be laminar or turbulent. We know that the flow around a smooth, streamlined object will be laminar at low velocity. We also know that at high velocity, even flow is around a smooth object will experience turbulence. At intermediate velocities, flow may oscillate back and forth indefinitely between laminar and turbulent. Reynolds number is an indicator which can reveal whether flow is laminar or turbulent. A moving object in a viscous fluid is equivalent to a stationary object in a flowing fluid stream.
Experiments have revealed that Reynolds number is related to the onset of turbulence. For Reynolds number below about 2000, flow is laminar; above about 3000, flow is turbulent. For values of Reynolds number between about 2000 and 3000, flow is unstable. It can be laminar but small obstructions and surface roughness can make it turbulent and it may oscillate randomly between being laminar and turbulent.

Related formulas


ReReynolds number (dimensionless)
ρDensity of the fluid (kg/m3)
vMean velocity of the fluid (m/s)
Lcharacteristic length of the object (m)
μDynamic viscosity of the fluid (Pa*s)