Boundary layers form anywhere a fluid encounters a solid boundary. This means any object surrounding us, and well... even on us! Boundary layers are extremely important for the analysis of heat transfer and for designing energy efficient systems.
Laminar boundary layers are the first stage of a boundary layer, so there cannot be boundary layers without a laminar section. Furthermore, we can find commonly used objects where laminar boundary layers are prevalent throughout the system, such as electronics components in our computers, like motherboards.
In certain industrial applications laminar boundary layers are key in reducing flow resistance and improving performance. Airbus and Boeing developed different techniques to generate longer laminar boundary layers on their aircraft to reduce the overall drag, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Boeing introduced the “Natural Laminar Flow” winglets for the 737 MAX AT, while Airbus presented its Breakthrough Laminar Aircraft Demonstrator in Europe (BLADE), which aims to generate laminar flow for an extensive section of the wing.
We have explored the importance of laminar boundary layers. Now, let’s find out what a boundary layer is, how it forms and what its properties are.
Here are the accompanying hand-out slides for this lesson.