Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Pressure-impulse theory for liquid impact problems

Mark J.  Cooker a1p1 and D. H.  Peregrine a1
a1 School of Mathematics, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TW, UK

Article author query
cooker mj   [Google Scholar] 
peregrine dh   [Google Scholar] 


A mathematical model is presented for the high pressures and sudden velocity changes which may occur in the impact between a region of incompressible liquid and either a solid surface or a second liquid region. The theory rests upon the well-known idea of pressure impulse, for the sudden initiation of fluid motion in incompressible fluids. We consider the impulsive pressure field which occurs when a moving fluid region collides with a fixed target, such as when an ocean wave strikes a sea wall. The boundary conditions are given for modelling liquid-solid and liquid-liquid impact problems. For a given fluid domain, and a given velocity field just before impact, the theory gives information on the peak pressure distribution, and the velocity after impact. Solutions for problems in simple domains are presented, which give insight into the peak pressures exerted by a wave breaking against a sea wall, and a wave impacting in a confined space. An example of liquid-liquid impact is also examined. Results of particular interest include a relative insensitivity to the shape of the incident wave, and an increased pressure impulse when impact occurs in a confined space. The theory predicts that energy is lost from the bulk fluid motion and we suggest that this energy can be transferred to a thin jet of liquid which is projected away from the impact region.

(Published Online April 26 2006)
(Received September 16 1991)
(Revised April 10 1995)

p1 Present address: School of Mathematics, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.