Estimating the value of von Kármán's constant in turbulent pipe flow

S. C.C. Bailey, M. Vallikivi, Marcus Nils Hultmark, Alexander Smits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Five separate data sets on the mean velocity distributions in the Princeton University/ONR Superpipe are used to establish the best estimate for the value of von Kármán's constant for the flow in a fully developed, hydraulically smooth pipe. The profiles were taken using Pitot tubes, conventional hot wires and nanoscale thermal anemometry probes. The value of the constant was found to vary significantly due to measurement uncertainties in the mean velocity, friction velocity and the wall distance, and the number of data points included in the analysis. The best estimate for the von Kármán constant in turbulent pipe flow is found to be 0.40±0.02. A more precise estimate will require improved instrumentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-98
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


  • turbulent boundary layers
  • turbulent flows


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