Flow in a Turbine

Fluid flows are complex, complicated, and ever-changing. Researchers use many techniques to visualize parts of a flow, which can help make what’s happening clearer. One technique, shown above, uses oil and dye to visualize flow at the surface. The vertical, black, airfoil-shaped pieces are stators, stationary parts within a turbine that help direct flow. After painting the stator mount surface with a uniform layer of oil, the model can be placed in a wind tunnel (or turbine) and exposed to flow. Air moving around the stators drags some of the oil with it, creating the darker and lighter streaks seen here. Notice how the lines of oil turn sharply around the front of the stator and bunch up near its widest point. Those crowded flow lines tell researchers that the air moves quickly around this corner. (Image credit: D. Klaubert et al., source)

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