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Concept# Stokes flow

Summary

Stokes flow (named after George Gabriel Stokes), also named creeping flow or creeping motion, is a type of fluid flow where advective inertial forces are small compared with viscous forces. The Reynolds number is low, i.e. . This is a typical situation in flows where the fluid velocities are very slow, the viscosities are very large, or the length-scales of the flow are very small. Creeping flow was first studied to understand lubrication. In nature, this type of flow occurs in the swimming of microorganisms and sperm. In technology, it occurs in paint, MEMS devices, and in the flow of viscous polymers generally.
The equations of motion for Stokes flow, called the Stokes equations, are a linearization of the Navier–Stokes equations, and thus can be solved by a number of well-known methods for linear differential equations. The primary Green's function of Stokes flow is the Stokeslet, which is associated with a singular point force embedded in a Stokes flow. From its derivatives, other fundamental solutions can be obtained. The Stokeslet was first derived by Oseen in 1927, although it was not named as such until 1953 by Hancock. The closed-form fundamental solutions for the generalized unsteady Stokes and Oseen flows associated with arbitrary time-dependent translational and rotational motions have been derived for the Newtonian and micropolar fluids.
The equation of motion for Stokes flow can be obtained by linearizing the steady state Navier–Stokes equations. The inertial forces are assumed to be negligible in comparison to the viscous forces, and eliminating the inertial terms of the momentum balance in the Navier–Stokes equations reduces it to the momentum balance in the Stokes equations:
where is the stress (sum of viscous and pressure stresses), and an applied body force. The full Stokes equations also include an equation for the conservation of mass, commonly written in the form:
where is the fluid density and the fluid velocity. To obtain the equations of motion for incompressible flow, it is assumed that the density, , is a constant.

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