After attending Enfield Grammar School, Brian Launder read Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London where he graduated at the head of his class winning the Bramwell Medal for his efforts. He continued to postgraduate study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where, as a research assistant in the Gas Turbine Laboratory, he obtained his master's and doctoral degrees for one of the earliest experimental studies of strongly accelerated turbulent boundary layers.
On completing his ScD degree, Launder returned to Imperial College as a lecturer where he remained for 12 years before accepting a full professorship at the University of California Davis. Over this period, while continuing experimental research, his interests extended to turbulence modelling within a CFD context, with particular focus on convective heat transfer. In recognition of his contributions to the measurement and modelling of turbulent flows he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. He has also received honorary doctorates from three European universities. From 2000-2006 he served as the inaugural regional director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
k-ε eddy-viscosity model
A widely cited scheme developed with his two research students W. P Jones and K. Hanjalic. Led to the prediction of laminarization in which a turbulent flow is caused to revert to laminar in a steep acceleration.
Turbulent stress-transport modelling
Long-term advocate of finding stresses from their own transport equation rather than via eddy viscosity; his latest textbook Modelling Turbulence in Engineering & the Environment with K. Hanjalic (CUP, 2011) details this strategy.
New approaches to Wall Functions
With Manchester colleagues, Professor Hector Iacovides and Dr Timothy Craft , developed new economical but accurate approaches to handling the near-wall semi-turbulent sublayer that exerts such a dominant effect on heat transfer rates.
Rotating-Flow Test Table
Led development of a rotating test facility that tests detailed flow and thermal behaviour of gas-turbine blade components under effectively engine conditions.
Launder at Manchester
In 1980 he was persuaded to return to the UK to head the Thermo-Fluids Division at the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology, UMIST (currently University of Manchester). Launder's main focus of research remained turbulent flows though shifting attention to the geometrically and physically more complex situations found in industrial contexts.