The Darcy-Weissbach friction factor for laminar flow would be $\frac{64}{Re}$

Now, having a shear thinning (non-newtonian) fluid where the viscosity is not constant how do I arrive at $Re$?
To know an apparaent viscosity, I'd need to know the shear rate, but that is not constant over the diameter of the pipes. Obviously I need to make allowances anyway (like assuming that my fluid obeys a power law over the relevant shear rates), so the method doesn't neet to be uber-exact. Bu I will want to know where I'm off.

Googling this, I only ound numerical/CFD solutions to far more complex problems an I couldn'T draw my answer from there.


1 Answer 1


In my view, the objective of knowing the friction factor, is for one to be able to calculate what is the pressure drop needed to push a given flow $Q$ through a given pipe diameter. This kind of relations exists for several models of non Newtonian fluid, take for example the power law model:


In this case the solution gives:

$Q=\pi(\frac{\Delta P}{2KL})^{1/n}(\frac{n}{1+3n})R^{(1+3n)/n}$

where $R$ is the pipe radius and $L$ is the pipe length. You can rearrange an expression of this type to obtain an effective viscosity, depending of your definition of "effective viscosity". For example "the value of viscosity that plugged into the Newtonian pressure drop-flow relation will give the correct value of pressure drop for given $Q$".

You can review the solutions for Bingham plastic or other type of models also. A more general approach is the one used in the Rabinowitsch-Mooney relations, where you determine experimentally a relation between flow and pressure drop, which allows you to find the shear rate at the wall, and deduce a shear rate- shear stress curve for the fluid. There are also definitions of "generalized Re", for non Newtonian flows.

Fluid dynamics books treat this topics in an accessible(algebraic, not CFD) manner, search for chapters on "non Newtonian fluids", or review Perry's Chemical engineerss handbook. My experience is from chemical engineering though.

Hope this helps.

  • $\begingroup$ deltaP is the pressure diff, all in SI units? Source? Your first paragraph is correct, I'm indeed after the pressure - Volume flow relation. $\endgroup$
    – mart
    Jan 27, 2016 at 6:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Dear mart, yes, the equation requires to use consistent units at both right and left sides. Source: Page 6-13 (page 13 of chapter 6) of Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook by Down W. Green and Robert H. Perry, 8th Edition. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2016 at 2:59

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