Crystal Xcelsius for Engineering and Scientific Applications:
Building a Visual Reynolds Number Calculator
By Nick Stefanakis, Consultant Practicing Engineer and Associate Engineer at the National Technical University of Athens - School of Chemical Engineers


At first glance, it may seem that Crystal Xcelsius appeals only to business executives, IT managers, financial consultants, or data presenters. However, it also provides engineers and scientists with a very powerful tool to transform the most complex of scientific spreadsheet-calculations into breathtaking visual calculators and applications. This article will show how you can use Crystal Xcelsius for visualizing a computation procedure known as Reynolds Number calculation. It's intended for moderate to advanced users that are proficient at using both Excel and Crystal Xcelsius.

Interactive example  

Problem Approach

Reynolds Number is a dimensionless combination of variables that is important in the study of fluid flow through pipes. Reynolds number is defined as:

where: ρ fluid density (kg/m 3), u fluid velocity (m/sec), D pipe diameter (m), and μ fluid viscosity (Ν*s/m 2)
When Re 2000, flow will be described as laminar
When Re 4000, flow will be described as turbulent
When 2000 < Re < 4000 the flow is considered transitional
Density ( ρ ) and Viscosity ( μ ) are properties depended on liquid-type, temperature, and pressure. The values for the ρ , μ are given from relevant tables.

In this example we will calculate the Reynolds Number for two cases: a) water flow at several temperatures and b) flow for some liquids at standard conditions (20 oC, 1atm)

Excel Implementation

Figures 1 shows the sheet for the first case.

Figure 1

The format for this sheet is as follows:

  • In cells A3:C14 I've input the values of T, ρ , μ , as given from a relevant properties table.
  • The value of ρ and μ will be placed in cells D3 and E3. These values are dependant upon the given temperature value, and will be dynamically inserted by Crystal Xcelsius (more on this later)
  • The value of u and D will be placed in cells B16 and B17 depending upon the value inserted by the user. (This will be done through Crystal Xcelsius, more on that later.)
  • In cell F1 we calculate the Reynolds Number with reference to the cells B16, B17, B3, C3,


  • Using the auto-fill function, we calculate the Reynolds Number in cells F4:F5
  • In Cell B18 we calculate the Reynolds Number using values from cells D3 and D4 (initially, cells D3 and D4 are empty, which results in the #DIV/0! message appearing in cell B18)
  • In Cell B20 we write the following excel function

=IF(B18<=2000;"The Flow is Laminar";IF(B18>=4000;"The Flow is Turbulent";"The flow is Transitional"))

  • The Cell B22 is empty and will be used as the reference cell for the Dynamic Visibility of Xcelsius.

Crystal Xcelsius Implementation

With Crystal Xcelsius we can transform this complex spreadsheet into a beautiful visual-application. The user will have the ability to input all the needed data and then see the results. Here's how to create the model:

1. Create a new Crystal Xcelsius file.

2. Import the Excel spreadsheet by pressing the button and the browsing for the file.

3. Design your background using the Art & Backgrounds and Text components.

4. Next, insert a Combo Box Selector component, found inside the Selector Components:


5. Double click on the Combo Box to open its Properties Panel, and link the component to the Excel data using the same properties shown here in Figure 2:

Figure 2

Configuring the Combo Box in this ways allows you to select a Temperature Value and place the corresponding value of ρ and μ into cells D3 and E3 respectively.

6. Insert a Input Text Component to select the Pipe's Diameter:

We want the user to be able to set the value for the Diameter of Pipe. Insert an Input Text Component onto your Crystal Xcelsius model, and configure its Properties as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3

This input box lets the user place whatever number he wants into cell B17. Every time the user changes the input value, the cell is automatically updated, and all the calculations are adjusted to reflect the new value.

7. Insert a Slider to determine fluid velocity:

We also want our user to determine the value for fluid velocity. We could use the same kind of Input Text component to do this, but let's try a more sophisticated method.using the Slider Component.

Figure 4

A Slider component lets us change the pre-set value inside our Crystal Xcelsius model, simply by dragging the slider across the screen. In this case, we're changing the value that corresponds to the cell B17.

8. Sharing the Results:

Now, our Crystal Xcelsius model has all the necessary data it needs in order to calculate Reynolds Number. Our next step is to build the display that will showcase our final results (Figure 5).
To do this, insert a Value Component and link it to cell B18. Next, use a Label Component, and link it to cell B20. Adding a gauge enhances the entire display, and gives us a much more attractive way to look at the data.(Figure 5).

Figure 5

Finally, we use the XY Chart Component in order to graphically present the Reynolds Number as a function of Temperature. The XY Chart is generally the most useful for scientists and engineers. Insert the XY Chart, then configure its Properties as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6


Crystal Xcelsius is a marvelous tool for presenting the results of scientific and engineering spreadsheet calculations. The ability to recalculate data visually, simply by entering data into a field or moving a slider across the screen makes Crystal Xcelsius an essential piece of software for all scientists and engineers.


About the Author

Nick Stefanakis is a Consultant Practicing Engineer and an Associate Engineer at the National Technical University of Athens - School of Chemical Engineers. His current research involves Solar Energy, with a specific focus on Solar Assisted Air-Conditioning. Nick also works professionally in developing spreadsheet applications. He can be reached at

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