An understanding of radial flow between confined boundaries is of practical importance in the design of radial diffusers and air bearings. This study presents a combined experimental and theoretical analysis of radial flow, without swirl, between parallel discs using air at incompressible speeds.
Emphasis is placed on the pressure distribution sufficiently far downstream of the channel inlet for the entry conditions to be unimportant. However, a study is also made of the main features of the flow near the inlet, particularly within the annular separation bubble.
It is shown, for both turbulent and laminar flow, that a similarity solution is possible only in special cases where certain terms in the equations of motion can be neglected. Approximate solutions are obtained for the turbulent and the laminar radial pressure distributions using an integral momentum method. Both theories agree well with experiment. The critical Reynolds number for reverse transition is found to be approximately the same as that for flow in twodimensional channels and circular pipes. With the flow separating at the channel inlet, it is established that both a suitably chosen, minimum pressure coefficient of the separation bubble and the reattachment distance are functions only of the channel width for a given inlet pipe diameter and are independent of Reynolds number and the diameter of the discs.