Difference Between Laminar Flow and Turbulent Flow


Primary Difference

Physics is a vast field and there are many subjects which are difficult to understand by people who are not directly related to the field. One of the main focuses in physics belongs to the flow of liquids. This flow has a lot of properties and becomes an essential part of various industrial processes. Different types of fluids are used in the manufacturing industry to run the machines and the processes which require the flow of some kind of liquid substance and two terms which are very important in this regard are known as Laminar Flow and Turbulent Flow. There are many differences between them, similarities only are to an extent that both the processes are relate to the flow of liquids. The differences between them will be discussed in this article. Since pipes are used to help the fluid flow, the definitions of both these terms are directly related. Laminar flow is therefore defined as the flow of fluid in which each part of the fluids follows a similar trajectory in a smooth manner and the path is so clear that there is no interference. Turbulent flow, then becomes the opposite of laminar flow, in this the flow is irregular and there are always some distractions when the liquid is being flowed. Another difference between these two types of flows is that velocity is constant at every point in a laminar flow while the velocity changes at different instances in a turbulent flow. The best example of both the flows can be a water pipe used for plants. When the water is flowing through the pipe the flow is assumed to be laminar while the flow becomes turbulent when the water reaches the outward point of the pipe and is pressed by the person who is watering the plants. The water spreads, to cover more area but the flow becomes irregular. Another difference between the flows is that laminar flow is maximum at the center while the rate becomes low at the ends. In the case of turbulent flow, the rate of flow is maximum at the ends while it is the slowest in the middle.

Comparison Chart

Laminar FlowTurbulent Flow
occurs in tubes which do not have any irregular surfaces.occurs in pipes where there is roughness.
The flow which smoothly carries itself.The one which is irregular in the way it moves.
Velocity is sameVelocity is variable
Rate of Flow

Definition of Laminar Flow

When a person smokes a cigarette, the smoke comes out of it. If careful observation is made it can be seen that the smoke is not irregular and follows a similar trajectory, this is known as laminar flow. One, in which the fluid follows a straight path and there are no distractions in the flow, this can be made possible in industry by using another fluid which keeps the surface of pipes smooth. Velocity is constant at every point in a laminar flow and the flow reaches its maximum in the middle and slows down when it reaches the end surfaces.

Definition of Turbulent Flow

Once the smoke from the cigarette is out after following a straight path for some time it tends to waver at a particular point, this then becomes a turbulent flow. One, in which there is no smoothness in the way the fluid flows and the pipes which are used in industry have rough surfaces. This flow can be helpful in some applications but mostly is considered inefficient. The velocity changes at every instant in the turbulent flow while it has the maximum rate at the end, the rate is slower in the central region because of many irregularities.


Differences in a Nutshell

  1. Laminar flow occurs in tubes which do not have any irregular surfaces and the turbulent flow occurs in pipes where there is roughness.
  2. Laminar flow is defined as the flow which smoothly carries itself out while a turbulent flow is defined as the one which is irregular in the way it moves.
  3. The velocity is same throughout a laminar flow while it varies when the flow is turbulent.
  4. The laminar flow is maximum in the middle while it diminishes at the end. In turbulent flow the case is opposite where the flow is maximum at the ends but lower in the center.
  5. Laminar flow has low rate of flow while turbulent flow has a higher rate.
  6. Flow is deemed to be streamlined in a laminar while it is considered not to be streamlined in turbulent.


Overall, it can be said that the two most famous terms are very different from each other. Flows can be an important part of the subject. Therefore, anyone who wants to know more about them realizes that they belong to one category. This article makes sure you are able to find out what you exactly are.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss