A scientist wearing protective glasses observing green and blue lasers.

Dr William Yang, wearing glasses that block green and blue laser light, observes fluid flow in CSIRO's laser lab.

Laser flow diagnostics laboratory

CSIRO’s laser flow diagnostics laboratory offers a world-class measurement and model validation facility with capabilities that are unique in Australia.

  • 7 August 2007 | Updated 14 October 2011

The laser flow diagnostics laboratory, located at CSIRO Minerals at Clayton,Victoria, Australia, is a key component of CSIRO’s process design and optimisation work.

Validation of computer models

This facility is primarily used to obtain quantitative experimental data that not only helps the fundamental understanding of physical phenomena, but also validates numerical predictions using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models.

CFD modelling is a powerful tool that is used to simulate flows and reactions in complex metallurgical and plant operations. However, physical modelling can sometimes be the preferred method of investigating flow behaviour. Also, physical flow models provide data for validation of CFD models.

Laser light is used for this physical modelling as it does not disrupt the flow during measurement, and provides extremely accurate measurement of average as well as instantaneous velocities in three dimensions.

The experimental results from the non-intrusive laser techniques are used to fine-tune CFD models until they agree with the experimental measurements. Researchers can then confidently, and relatively inexpensively, change geometry and introduce high speed and temperature variables into CFD simulations to predict more complex systems.

CSIRO's laser flow diagnostics laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art laser anemometry equipment.

CFD models validated by experiments in the laser laboratory will be of great value to industries using large complex plants, given the significant cost and downtime associated with modifying and upscaling such plants.

A broad range of industry applications

Although the laboratory was set up to work with mineral processors, it is being used in a growing range of biomedical and tissue engineering research programs, including:

  • the three-dimensional (3D) flow characteristic inside an artificial heart pump
  • the drug particle deposition inside the human nasal cavity and upper-airway
  • the flow field across a biosynthetic material inside a bioreactor.


CSIRO's laser flow diagnostics laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art laser anemometry equipment which enables CSIRO to perform highly detailed and accurate measurements of flow fields in gas and liquids, simultaneously with analyses of particulate flows.

The equipment includes:

  • Laser Doppler Velocimetry (LDV), which is used to measure gas and particle velocities and Reynold's shear stresses to high accuracy
  • Phase Doppler Particle Anemometry (PDPA), which enables the simultaneous measurement of particle velocity and particle sizes
  • Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV), which allows instantaneous velocity measurements to be made of entire flow fields, as well as providing snapshots of the flow field
  • Particle/Droplet Image Analysis (PDIA), which enables detailed sizing of particles and droplets up to many millimetres across, in combination with velocity measurements.

Read more about how CSIRO is Simulating the flow of liquids, gases and particles.