Unsteady vacuum gas flow in cylindrical tubes
The starting gas flow in a cylindrical channel is investigated in the whole range of the Knudsen number by numerically solving the governing time dependent kinetic equations in a fully deterministic manner. The gas is initially at rest and then due to a suddenly imposed uniform pressure gradient, is starting to flow. The motion is time dependent up to the point where the steady-state flow conditions are recovered. The flow field is modeled by the linearized unsteady BGK equation subject to Maxwell purely diffuse boundary conditions. The solution provides a detailed description of the evolution of the flow field with regard to time from the starting point, where the gas is at rest up to a certain time where almost steady-state conditions are recovered. Based on the results some insight of how rapidly a vacuum flow will respond to a sudden change, related to an externally imposed pressure gradient coming from a vacuum pump or a valve, is obtained. The total time to recover the stationary solution in terms of the rarefaction parameter exhibits a minimum close to the well known Knudsen minimum. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.