Free-molecular and near-free-molecular gas flows over backward facing steps

A. Manela, L. Gibelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider the two-dimensional steady channel flow of a rarefied gas over a backward facing step in the limit of large Knudsen numbers. The free-molecular problem is solved analytically for both diffuse and specular-reflecting channel boundaries, and the solutions are validated through comparison with direct simulation Monte Carlo calculations. Prescribing the density and temperature differences between the inlet and outlet external equilibrium conditions, the results for the density- and temperature-drop-driven flows are analysed and contrasted, revealing higher flow velocities and mass flow rates in the former. While the flow rate is unaffected by the step geometry in the specular case, it increases with the step size in the diffuse-reflecting set-up. At conditions where small flow velocities occur, flow detachment is observed in the form of streamlines connecting the step edge stagnation points. Considering the problem at finite Knudsen numbers, the collisionless-flow regime breaks down at higher Knudsen numbers for lower gas speed flows, followed by the occurrence of step flow separation and recirculation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA22
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Early online date24 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2020


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