Anomalous transition to turbulence in microtubes

Kendra V. Sharp, Ronald J. Adrian, David J. Beebe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

13 Scopus citations


As the microfluidics field expands, required flowrates in microdevices are expected to span a large range of Reynolds numbers (Re), and the prediction of flow regime, namely laminar versus turbulent, is highly relevant. Recent measurements have been inconclusive in answering a fundamental question: Does microscale flow behave differently than macroscale flow? Previous measurements have suggested that the transition to turbulence occurs at Re much lower than 2000, the generally accepted lower limit of macroscale transition to turbulence. The current experiments use both bulk flow resistance measurements and micro-Particle Image Velocimetry (micro-PIV) results to show that, for Re < 1100-1500 and microchannel diameters 75 to 250 μm, the velocity profiles and flow resistance are well-predicted by macroscale laminar flow theory. For Re > 1100-1500, an initial departure from laminar behavior is noted both from the flow resistance and the micro-PIV experiments. Thus, some "microscale" effects are observed, though they are not as dramatic as those observed in previous studies. A brief literature review of transitional macroscale pipe flow is presented, and potential explanations are proposed for the possible "micro-scale" effects observed in these experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780791819005
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes
EventASME 2000 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2000 - Orlando, United States
Duration: Nov 5 2000Nov 10 2000

Publication series

NameASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Proceedings (IMECE)


ConferenceASME 2000 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2000
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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