Flow visualization

A model Cessna with helium-filled bubbles showing pathlines of the wingtip vortices.

Flow visualization or flow visualisation in fluid dynamics is used to make the flow patterns visible, in order to get qualitative or quantitative information on them.


Flow visualization is the art of making flow patterns visible. Most fluids (air, water, etc.) are transparent, thus their flow patterns are invisible to the naked eye without methods to make them visible.

Historically, such methods included experimental methods. With the development of computer models and CFD simulating flow processes (e.g. the distribution of air-conditioned air in a new car), purely computational methods have been developed.

Methods of visualization

Shadowgraph of the turbulent plume of hot air rising from a home-barbecue gas grill. Photograph by Gary S. Settles, Floviz Inc.

In experimental fluid dynamics, flows are visualized by three methods:

In scientific visualization flows are visualized with two main methods:


In computational fluid dynamics the numerical solution of the governing equations can yield all the fluid properties in space and time. This overwhelming amount of information must be displayed in a meaningful form. Thus flow visualization is equally important in computational as in experimental fluid dynamics.

See also


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Flow visualization.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 3/11/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.