Weber number

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A splash after half a brick hits the water; the image is about half a meter across. Note the freely moving airborne water droplets, a phenomenon typical of high Reynolds number flows; the intricate non-spherical shapes of the droplets show that the Weber number is high. Also note the entrained bubbles in the body of the water, and an expanding ring of disturbance propagating away from the impact site.

The Weber number (We) is a dimensionless number in fluid mechanics that is often useful in analysing fluid flows where there is an interface between two different fluids, especially for multiphase flows with strongly curved surfaces. It can be thought of as a measure of the relative importance of the fluid's inertia compared to its surface tension. The quantity is useful in analyzing thin film flows and the formation of droplets and bubbles.

It is named after Moritz Weber (1871–1951) and may be written as:

\mathrm{We} = \frac{\rho\,v^2\,l}{\sigma}  

where

The modified Weber number,

\mathrm{We}^*=\frac{\mathrm{We}}{12}  

equals the ratio of the kinetic energy on impact to the surface energy,

\mathrm{We}^*=\frac{E_\mathrm{kin}}{E_\mathrm{surf}},

where

E_\mathrm{kin}=\frac{\pi\rho l^3 U^2}{12}  

and

E_\mathrm{surf}=\pi l^2 \sigma.

Applications[edit]

One application of the Weber number is for the study of heat pipes. When the momentum flux in the vapor core of the heat pipe is high, there is a possibility that the shear stress exerted on the liquid in the wick can be large enough to entrain droplets into the vapor flow. The Weber number is the dimensionless parameter that determines the onset of this phenomenon called the entrainment limit (Weber number greater than or equal to 1). In this case the Weber number is defined as the ratio of the momentum in the vapor layer divided by the surface tension force restraining the liquid, where the characteristic length is the surface pore size.

References[edit]

  • Weast, R. Lide, D. Astle, M. Beyer, W. (1989-1990). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. 70th ed. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, Inc.. F-373,376.