Sound waves with attenuation

Just a simple derivation of the role of attenuation in the standard sound wave equation. Original work: Stokes, 1845.

Starting with the Navier-Stokes momentum equation

\frac{\partial }{\partial t} \mathbf{u} + \mathbf{u} \nabla \mathbf{u} = - \frac{1}{\rho} \nabla p + \frac{\mu}{\rho} \nabla^2 \mathbf{u} + \left(\frac{\lambda+\mu}{\rho}\right)\nabla (\nabla\cdot\mathbf{u}) ,

where \lambda is a Lamé viscosity coefficient. The bulk viscosity coeficient  is defined as  \zeta = \lambda + (2/3) \mu. The last term  is often neglected, even in compressible flow, but sound attenuation is one of the few cases where it may have some influence. All viscosities are assumed to be constant, but in this case this is a safe assumption, since we are going to assume small departures about equilibrium values.

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