Planar channel flow in Braginskii magnetohydrodynamics

P. J. Dellar (2011) Planar channel flow in Braginskii magnetohydrodynamics J. Fluid Mech. 667 520-543

Preprint available ( BraginskiiJFM.pdf 267K)


Braginskii magnetohydrodynamics is a single-fluid description of large-scale motions in strongly magnetised plasmas. The ion Larmor radius in these plasmas is much shorter than the mean free path between collisions, so momentum transport across magnetic field lines is strongly suppressed. The relation between the strain rate and the viscous stress becomes highly anisotropic, with the viscous stress being predominantly aligned parallel to the magnetic field. We present an analytical study of the steady planar flow across an imposed uniform magnetic field driven by a uniform pressure gradient along a straight channel, the configuration known as Hartmann flow, in Braginskii magnetohydrodynamics. The global momentum balance cannot be satisfied by just the parallel viscous stress, so we include the viscous stress perpendicular to magnetic field lines as well. The ratio of perpendicular to parallel viscosities is the key small parameter in our analysis. When another parameter, the Hartmann number, is large the flow is uniform across most of the channel, with boundary layers on either wall that are modifications of the Hartmann layers in standard isotropic magnetohydrodynamics. However, the Hartmann layer solution predicts an infinite current and infinite shear at the wall, consistent with a local series solution of the underlying differential equation that is valid for all Hartmann numbers. These singularities are resolved by inner boundary layers whose width scales as the three-quarters power of the viscosity ratio, while the maximum velocity scales as the inverse one-quarter power of the viscosity ratio. The inner wall layers fit between the Hartmann layers, if present, and the walls. The solution thus does not approach a limit as the viscosity ratio tends to zero. Essential features of the solution, such as the maximum current and maximum velocity, are determined by the size of the viscosity ratio, which is the regularising small parameter.

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