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Published September 1996 | Published
Journal Article Open

Flow measurements near a Reynolds ridge


The Reynolds ridge is a well-known phenomenon first observed in 1854 by Henry David Thoreau. It was then rediscovered by Langton in 1872, but Reynolds was the first to recognize that the surface tension difference was the physical mechanism behind its formation and saw the equality between the case of a spreading film and that of a stagnant film met by oncoming flow. However, it wasn't until McCutchen in 1970 that the prediction of a boundary layer forming beneath the film was introduced as the cause of the surface deformation rise ahead of the film due to the retardation of the flow. The first quantitative theory of the ridge was formed by Harper and Dixon (1974), who stated that the surface tension gradient balances the viscous shear stress generated in the boundary layer. Experimental studies of the ridge so far include Schlieren visualizations by Sellin (1968) as well as by Scott (1982) who measured the surface slope across the ridge and found good comparisons between the theoretical results of Harper and Dixon. Finally, it was Scott who recognized that even at very low levels of surface contamination the Reynolds ridge is found to exist.

Additional Information

© 1996 ASME. Contributed by the Fluids Engineering Division of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Manuscript received by the Fluids Engineering Division September 12, 1995; revised manuscript received April16, 1996. Associate Technical Editor: D. P. Telionis. We would like to thank Dana Dabiri for his help and advice while performing this work. This work was supported by ONR contract #N00014-94-1-0596. The National Science Foundation, and the Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship Award have supported first author Amy Warncke towards her graduate work.

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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023