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DIFFERENT FORMS OF CONTINUITY EQN
1. The continuity equation is based on the fundamental principle that mass is
conserved. This principle can be applied on four different models of flow which are: -
(a) Finite Control Volume –Fixed in Space
0 ____________(1)
V S
dV V dS
t
p p
o
+ ·
o
lll ll
r r
g
(b) Finite Control Volume – Moving in space
0 _____________________(2)
V
D
dV
Dt
p ·
lll
r
(c) Infinitesimal Fluid Element – Fixed in Space
( ) 0 ____________________(3) V
t
p
p
o
+V ·
o
r
g
(d) Infinitesimal Fluid Element – Moving in space.
0 _____________________(4)
D
V
Dt
p
p + V ·
r
g
2. Equations (1) and (2) give the continuity equation in integral form while
Equations (3) and (4) give the continuity equation in differential equation form. Also,
the models fixed in space, i.e., Equations (1) and (3) give rise to the conservation
form while the models moving in space, i.e., Equations (2) and (4) give rise to the
non-conservation form of the continuity equation.
3. The fluid flow equations that are directly obtained by applying the
fundamental physical principle to a finite control volume are in integral form. These
integral forms can be manipulated to indirectly obtain the partial differential equation
form. Similarly, the fluid flow equations that are directly obtained by applying the
fundamental physical principle to an infinitesimal fluid element are in substantial
derivative form. They can be manipulated to indirectly obtain the integral form. While
doing this conversion, we make use of
(a) The Green’s divergence theorem which is given as
( )
S V
V dS V dV p p · V
ll lll
r r r
g g
_________________(5)
(b) The definition of substantial derivative which is given by
( )
V V
D
dV V dV
Dt t
p p
p
o
]
· + V
]
o
]
lll lll
r r
g
__________(6)
(c) The physical meaning of divergence which is simply the “time rate of
change of volume of an infinitesimally small fluid element per unit volume”
given by
1 ( ) D dV
V
dV Dt
V ·
r
g _____________________(7)
4. Conversion from integral equation to partial differential equation :
Conservation Form.
- 2 -
(a) The integral form of the continuity equation is given by equation (1) in
the conservation form.
(b) Since the control volume is fixed in space, the limits of integration are
constant, and hence the time derivative ∂/∂t can be placed inside the
integral, i.e.,
0
V S
dV V dS
t
p
p
o
+ ·
o
lll ll
r r
g
(c) Applying Green’s Divergence theorem from vector calculus to the
second part of left hand side of equation gives
( ) 0;
( ) 0 __________(8)
V V
V
dV V dV
t
V dV
t
p
p
p
p
o
+ V ·
o
o ]
= +V ·
]
o
]
lll lll
lll
r
g
r
g
(d) Since the finite control volume is arbitrarily drawn in space, the only
way for the integral equation (5) to equal zero is for the integrand to be
zero at every point within the control volume. Hence,
( ) 0 V
t
p
p
o
+V ·
o
r
g
This is precisely the same as equation (3) in partial differential
equation form.
5. Conversion from partial differential equation to integral equation :
Conservation Form.
(a) The partial differential equation form of the continuity equation is
given by equation (3) in the conservation form for infinitesimal fluid
element.
(b) The moving control volume consists of an infinite number of
infinitesimally small volumes of fixed infinitesimally small mass, each
of volume dV. Hence the volume integral is taken over equation (3) for
applying it over a finite control volume V, i.e.,

( ) 0
V
V dV
t
p
p
o
]
+ V ·
]
o
]
lll
r
g
(c) Separating the volume integral as addition of two parts and applying
Green’s divergence theorem to convert the volume integral to surface
integral gives equation (1) again which is the integral form of
continuity equation (conservation form).
6. Conversion from Conservation Form of Continuity (Integral) equation to Non-
conservation Form.
(a) The conservation form of the continuity equation in integral form is
given by equation (1).
(b) Applying divergence theorem to second part of right hand side gives
( ) 0;
V V
dV V dV
t
p
p
o
+ V ·
o
lll lll
r
g
_______________(9)
- 3 -
(c) From the vector identity, .( ) V V V p p p V · V + V
r r r
g g , the equation is
written as
( ) 0;
V
V V dV
t
p
p p
o
| `
+ V + V ·
÷
o
. ,
lll
r r
g g
____________(10)
(d) From the definition of substantial derivative given by equation (5), the
first two terms of the left hand side of above equation can be replaced
by Dρ/Dt, i.e.,
) 0
V
D
V dV
Dt
p
p
| `
+ V ·
÷
. ,
lll
r
g
___________________(11)
(e) Separating the volume integral and using the physical meaning of the
divergence of velocity which is simply the “time rate of change of
volume of an infinitesimally small fluid element per unit volume”
given by
1 ( ) D dV
V
dV Dt
V ·
r
g
equation (11) can be written as
1 ( )
) 0
V V
D D dV
dV dV
Dt dV Dt
p
p
| ` | `
+ ·
÷ ÷
. , . ,
lll lll
__________(12)
Simplifying,
( )
) 0
( )
0
V
V
D D dV
dV
Dt Dt
D dV
Dt
p
p
p
| `
+ ·
÷
. ,
| `
= ·
÷
. ,
lll
lll
(f) Since the limits of integration are determined by the same moving
elements, the substantial derivative can be taken outside the integral.
Thus we arrive at equation
0 _____________________(2)
V
D
dV
Dt
p ·
lll
r
which is the non-conservation form of integral continuity equation.
7. Conversion from Non-conservation Form of Continuity (Integral) equation to
conservation Form. By following the above steps in the reverse order, we can arrive at
the conservation form of the integral continuity equation from the non-conservation
form.
8. Conversion from Conservation Form of Continuity (Differential) equation to
Non-conservation Form.
(a) The conservation form of the continuity equation in differential form is
given by equation (3) i.e.,
( ) 0 ____________________(3) V
t
p
p
o
+V ·
o
r
g
(b) Consider the vector identity involving the divergence of the product of
a scalar times a vector given by
( ) ( ) ( )
. . V V V p p p V = V + V
r r r
g
__________(13)
(c) Substituting eqn (13) in (3) gives
- 4 -
( ) ( )
. . 0 V V
t
p
p p
o
+ V + V ·
o
r r
__________(14)
(d) From the definition of substantial derivative given by eqn (5), eqn (14)
can be written as
( )
. 0
D
V
Dt
p
p + V ·
r
which is precisely the non-conservation form of differential continuity
equation given by (4).
9. Conversion from Non-conservation Form of Continuity (Differential) equation
to conservation Form. By following the above steps in the reverse order, we can arrive
at the conservation form of the differential continuity equation from the non-
conservation form.
10. It is important to note that the integral form of the equations allows for the
presence of discontinuities inside the fixed control volume fixed in space while the
differential form assumes the flow propertied are differentiable and hence continuous.
Hence integral form is considered more fundamental and is of particular importance
when calculating a flow with real discontinuities, such as shock waves.
- 5 -
0 ____________(1)
0 _____________________(2)
( ) 0 ____________________(3)
0 _____________________(4)
V S
V
dV V dS
t
D
dV
Dt
V
t
D
V
Dt
p p
p
p
p
p
p
o
+ ·
o
·
o
+V ·
o
+ V ·
lll ll
lll
r r
g
r
r
g
r
g