# isentropic flow

## Isentropic flow

Compressible flow in which entropy remains constant throughout the flowfield. A slight distinction is sometimes made, especially in Europe, as follows. If the entropy of a fluid element moving along a streamline in a flow remains constant, the flow is isentropic along a streamline. However, the value of the entropy may be different along different streamlines, thus allowing entropy changes normal to the streamlines. An example is the flowfield behind a curved shock wave; here, streamlines that pass through different locations along the curved shock wave experience different increases in entropy. Hence, downstream from this shock, the entropy can be constant along a given streamline but differs from one streamline to another. This type of flow, with entropy constant along streamlines, is sometimes defined as isentropic. Flow with entropy constant everywhere is then called homentropic. *See* Compressible flow, Entropy, Isentropic process

Because of the second law of thermodynamics, an isentropic flow does not strictly exist. From the definition of entropy, an isentropic flow is both adiabatic and reversible. However, all real flows experience to some extent the irreversible phenomena of friction, thermal conduction, and diffusion. Any nonequilibrium, chemically reacting flow is also irreversible. However, there are a large number of gas dynamic problems with entropy increase negligibly slight, which for the purpose of analysis are assumed to be isentropic. Examples are flow through subsonic and supersonic nozzles, as in wind tunnels and rocket engines; and shock-free flow over a wing, fuselage, or other aerodynamic shape. For these flows, except for the thin boundary-layer region adjacent to the surface where friction and thermal conduction effects can be strong, the outer inviscid flow can be considered isentropic. If shock waves exist in the flow, the entropy increase across these shocks destroys the assumption of isentropic flow, although the flow along streamlines between shocks may be isentropic. *See* Adiabatic process, Boundary-layer flow, Shock wave, Thermodynamic principles, Thermodynamic processes