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# Reflection of Shock Waves

B51EL: Fluids 2

## Reflection of Shock Waves

When an oblique wave meets a solid boundary a reflection wave may be formed. As shown
in figure 1, the original flow is parallel to the boundary; an oblique shock wave is produced
by the wedge and the flow downstream of the wave is therefore deflected towards the
boundary by the angle 1 2. If Ma2 > 1 the flow can again become parallel to the
boundary only through another shock wave which counteracts the original deflection. The
second wave BC may thus be regarded as the reflection if the original wave AB at the
boundary.

## Figure 1: Reflected Shock Wave

Shock waves are not like light waves and the angels of incidence and reflection are, in
general not equal.
Example
As indicated in the diagram (figure 2), a flow of Mach number equal to 2.5 is deflected by a
wedge which results in an oblique shock wave at an angle of 30 with the horizontal
boundary.
a. By what angle, is the original flow deflected?
b. What is the Mach number of the deflected flow?
c. What angle does the reflected wave make with the horizontal boundary?

B51EL: Fluids 2

## From the tables at a Ma1 = 2.5 and = 30:

1. Deflection, = 7.98
2. Resulting Mach number, Ma2 = 2.168
At the reflected wave, the deflection must be 7.98 in the opposite direction to return the
flow to parallel with the original flow direction.
From the tables at a Ma2 = 2.168 and = 7.98:
1. The Mach wave angle, = 34.32
2. Resulting Mach number, Ma3 = 1.869
The angle made by the reflected shock wave with the horizontal surface therefore is:

## 34.32 7.98 26.34

The deflection caused by the first wave may be so large that it exceeds the value obtainable
from the intermediate Mach number Ma2. If, in the example above, the initial wave angle is
45 instead of 30, the defection would be 21 and Ma2 would be 1.569. The maximum
deflection possible from the upstream Mach number of 1.569 is only 13 and this is
insufficient to bring the flow again parallel with the boundary.

## Figure 3: Large Deflection Angles

The pattern of waves then takes the form illustrated in figure 3 in which BB is an
approximately normal shock wave so that downstream of it subsonic flow is produced
adjacent to the boundary. The pressures and directions of the fluid streams passing through
BC and BB must be the same, but their difference in velocity causes them to be separated
by a vortex sheet or slip surface BV, which is soon diffused by turbulence. This sort of
reflection was first observed by Ernst Mach and is therefore known as a Mach reflection.
If two oblique shock waves meet, the usual result is the formation of another pair of waves
springing from the intersection, on the downstream side. There is also a vortex sheet if the
velocities after the second pair of waves are not equal. As with the reflection waves,

## Reflection of Shock Waves

B51EL: Fluids 2

however, the combination of intermediate Mach number and wave angle may not be
suitable and then a Mach intersection is formed.
Supersonic Flow around a Corner
Figure 4 illustrates steady two dimensional supersonic flow past a boundary consisting of
two plane surfaces which make an angle of with each other. This angle, although greatly
exaggerated for clarity in the diagram is infinitesimal. The flow approaching the corner is
supposed uniform and so far from other boundary surfaces as to be unaffected by them. We
shall see that if the corner is convex, as in the diagram, the gas undergoes an expansion
through an infinitesimal Mach wave which makes an acute angle with the original
direction of flow.

## Figure 4: Supersonic Flow around a Convex Corner

By considering the entropy change, only an infinitesimal wave is possible; this is why the
present analysis must be restricted to an infinitesimal angle of turn . The corner
constitutes an infinitesimal disturbance to the flow and so is the same for all streamlines
i.e. the wave is straight and the downstream conditions must all be uniform too.
Across the wave the velocity changes from u to u + u, but because there is no pressure
gradient along the wave the component of velocity parallel to the wave remains unaltered.

u cos

u cos

u cos

u cos cos

sin sin

u cos

cos
u sin

u cos
u
u

sin
cot

u
cot
u

## Reflection of Shock Waves

B51EL: Fluids 2
0.5

u
1
u sin 2

0.5
u
Ma 2 1
u

Since

1
Ma

sin

Therefore, with positive measured from the original direction, u is positive. In other
words, the velocity increases around the convex corner. As the component parallel to the
Mach wave remains unchanged, the normal component must increase and, to satisfy the
continuity relation (un = constant), the density must decrease.
If an initially uniform flow makes a succession of small turns, as indicated in figure 5, there
will be a number of regions of uniform flow separated by Mach waves emanating from the
corners. If the straight portions between the corners (and also the angles 1, 2 etc.), are
indefinitely decreased a continuously curved surface is obtained, from which an infinite
number of Mach waves is generated.

## Figure 5: Successive Small Expansions

Since opportunity for heat transfer at these high velocities is so slight the process across
each infinitesimal wave may be considered adiabatic. Then, since changes of elevation are
negligible, the energy equation is:
1 p

C
u2

1 2
u
2
a2
u2

constant, C
1
1

1
2

a2
1
1
1 Ma 2

1 2
u
2
1
2

## Reflection of Shock Waves

B51EL: Fluids 2

Differentiate to find:

2dMa
1 Ma 3

2Cdu
u3

2du
u

Ma 2 1

1 Ma 3

1
1 Ma 2

1
2

0.5

dMa
1
1 Ma 2

1
2

Since Ma > 1, dM is positive when d is positive, Ma increases around a convex corner. Thus
sin = 1/M decreases; that is, the Mach waves make successively smaller angles with the
oncoming streamlines as shown in figure 5. A particular case is that in which the individual
Mach waves all intersect at a common point. Such flow is known as centred expansion. An
important instance is that in which the common centre for the waves is on the boundary
itself, that is at a corner of finite angle. The flow is unaffected up to the Mach wave A; in the
fan-shaped region between waves A and B the gas expands gradually and isentropically with
a gradual change in flow direction; beyond wave B uniform conditions again prevail.
Although this results in a discontinuous change of properties from state (1) to state (2) at
the corner itself (like a rarefaction shock), the discontinuity is infinitesimal in extent and
so the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is not violated.
Whether the expansion is centred or not, the total change in conditions through the series
of Mach waves may be determined by integrating the previous equation; let:

Ma 2 1

x
dx
dMa

0.5

2Ma
Ma 2 1

dMa

0.5

xdx
Ma

## Substitute these in to find:

d

2 x 2 dx
1
1

1x

1 dx
1 x2

Integrate to find :
1
1

0.5

tan

1
1

0.5

tan 1 x

dx
x

## Reflection of Shock Waves

B51EL: Fluids 2
1
1

0.5

tan

1
1

0.5

Ma 2 1

sec 1 Ma

Since may be measured from an arbitrary datum direction the integration constant has
been set at zero (and thus = 0 when Ma = 1). The results are presented graphically here
but can also be found in your tables:

Figure 6: Variation of Prandtl-Meyer Angle with Mach number for Air, ( = 1.4)

Such a flow around a convex corner is known as a Prandtl-Meyer expansion and is known
as the Prandtl Meyer angle. It represents the angel through which a stream, initially at sonic
velocity, must be turned to reach the given Mach number, Ma. The change in direction
needed for the flow to expand from Ma1 to Ma2 may be determined as the change of the
Prandtl-Meyer angle between the limits Ma1 and Ma2.
Example
A uniform stream of air ( = 1.4) at a Mach number of 1.8 and static pressure 50kPa is
expanded around a 10 convex bend. What are the conditions of the flow after the bend?
From the tables at Ma1 = 1.8
1

20.73

20.73 10

30.73

Again, from the tables, the Mach number associated with a Prandtl-Meyer angle of 30.73 is

Ma 2 2.162

B51EL: Fluids 2

p2
p1

T2
T1

M 12

M 22

2
2

p2

1 0.2 1.8
50 10
2
1 0.2 2.162

3.5

## The maximum deflection theoretically possible would be that corresponding to acceleration

from Ma1 = 1 to Ma2 =
The gas would then have expanded to zero pressure and temperature. If the boundary
turned away from the flow by more than max a void would form nest to the boundary. In
practice, however the maximum deflection is not achieved, because the temperature
cannot fall to absolute zero without liquefaction of the gas. Moreover, as the pressure
approaches absolute zero the assumption of a fluid continuum is no longer tenable.