Almost all flows of practical interest are turbulent, and thus the simulation of turbulent flow and its diversity of flow characteristics remains one of the most challenging areas in the field of classical physics. In many situations the fluid can be considered incompressible; that is, its density is virtually constant in the frame of reference, moving locally with the fluid, but density gradients may be passively convected with the flow. Examples of such flows of engineering importance are as follows: external flows, such as those around cars, ships, buildings, chimneys, masts, and suspension bridges; and internal flows, such as those in intake manifolds, cooling and ventilation systems, combustion engines, and applications from the areas of biomedicine, the process industry, the food industry, and so on. In contrast to free flows (ideally considered as homogeneous and isotropic), wall-bounded flows are characterized by much less universal properties than free flows and are thus even more challenging to study. The main reason for this is that, as the Reynolds number increases, and the thickness of the viscous sublayer decreases, the number of grid points required to resolve the near-wall flow increases.
The two basic ways of computing turbulent flows have traditionally been direct numerical simulation (DNS) and Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) modeling. In the former the time-dependent Navier–Stokes equations (NSE) are solved numerically, essentially without approximations. In the latter, only time scales longer than those of the turbulent motion are computed, and the effect of the turbulent velocity fluctuations is modeled with a turbulence model.