Thin Film Flows

Thin film flow is a general name for flows that are characterized by the fact that the flow domain in one of the dimensions is much smaller than in the other (one or two) dimensions. This property can be used to reduce the Navier Stokes equations to a simplified (set of) modeling equations. Thin film flow problems appear in many fields, varying from specific situations in the flow in human lunges to lubrication problems in engineering which is probably one of the largest subfield of thin film flow problems. Well know examples from everyday life are slipping on a wet bathroom floor and aqua planing on a wet road. The activities in our research include:


modelling the problems


development of (fast)numerical simulation algorithms based on multigrid methods


implementation of the developed algorithms for practical applications


application of the numerical algorithms as a tool to derive simplified models or engineering rules


experimental validation

In some cases the behaviour of the thin film flow problem must be studied in relation with its environment, i.e. vibration problems involving structural mechanics or acoustics. In this case the dynamic behaviour needs to be studied too. Also the flowing medium itself may exhibit a complex non-Newtonian rheological behaviour or the conditions in the flow domain may be such that due to high pressure or extreme shear such non-Newtonian behaviour is of importance. In our research we closely cooperate with scientists from several institutes abroad and industrial partners.

The study of thin film flow for practical applications  is a challenging interplay between fluid mechanics, structural mechanics, and theology.

As an example of one of the problems studied by us in the past years the achievements and recent developments made in the field of Elasto-Hydrodynamic Lubrication.

The following PhD projects carried out in the past have laid the foundation for the "line of reserach".



Thesis Title


C.H. Venner

Multilevel Solution of  the EHL Line and Point Contact


J. Bos

Frictional Heating of Tribological Contacts


Y.H. Wijnant

Contact Dynamics in Elasto-Hydrodynamic Lubrication


D.E.A. van Odyck

Stokes Flow in Thin Films


B.C. Jacod

Friction in EHL