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# CHAPTER 3: FLUID STATICS

Introduction: Fluid statics is the study of fluids in which there is no relative motion between
fluid particles, i.e. no velocity gradient in the fluid. Therefore, no shearing forces exist. Only
normal forces exist. These normal forces in fluids are called pressure forces.
3.1 Pressure
Definition
Pressure results from a normal compressive force acting on an area. Mathematically, it is
defined as

dA
dF
A
F
A
P

0
lim
where F is the normal force acting over the area A.
Pressure is a scalar quantity; it has magnitude only and acts equally in all directions.
Pressure Transmission
In a closed system, a pressure change produced at one point in the system will be transmitted
throughout the entire system. This principle is known as Pascals law.
The Pascals principle is applied in the development devices like hydraulic brakes, hydraulic
jacks and hydraulic lifts. [See illustration in fig. 3.2. Study example 3.1.]
Absolute Pressure, Gage Pressure and Vacuum
A space that is completely evacuated of all gases is called a vacuum.
The pressure in a vacuum is called absolute zero and all pressures referenced with respect to
this zero pressure are termed absolute pressures.
When pressure is measured relative to the local atmospheric pressure, the pressure reading is
called gage pressure.
P
absolute
= P
atm
+ P
gage
When the absolute pressure is less than atmospheric pressure, the gage pressure is negative.
Negative gage pressures are also termed vacuum pressures, e.g. a gage pressure of -31.0 kPa
can be stated as a vacuum pressure of 31.0 kPa. [See fig. 3.3 for more illustrations.]
The unit of pressure is the Pascal (Pa) in SI system and pounds per square inch (psi) in the
traditional system. Gage and absolute pressures are usually identified after the unit, e.g. 50
kPa gage; 150 kPa absolute; 8 psig; 22 psia.
3.2 Pressure Variation with Elevation
Basic Differential Equation
For a static fluid, pressure varies only with elevation within the fluid.
Proof: Considering the cylindrical element of fluid shown in fig. 3.4, the following relation
can be obtained (proof will be shown in class):

dl
dz
dl
dp

(1)
which can be written as

dz
dp
(2)
This is the basic equation for hydrostatic pressure variation with elevation.
The following can be observed for a static fluid from the equations above:
A change of pressure occurs only when there is a change of elevation. Therefore,
pressure is constant everywhere in a horizontal plane.
Pressure changes inversely with elevation.
Pressure Variation for a Uniform-Density Fluid
For a uniform-density fluid is constant. Equation (2) can then be integrated to obtain

t cons z p
pressure c piezometri
tan +

(3)
Dividing equation (3) by gives

t cons z
p
tan

,
_

+

(4)
Using equations (3) and (4), one can relate the pressure and elevation at two points in a fluid
in the following manner:

2
2
1
1
z
p
z
p
+ +

(5)
Note: The equation applies to two points in the same fluid; it does not apply across an
interface of two fluids having different specific weights.
Example: Problem 3.11
Water occupies the bottom 1.0 m of a cylindrical tank. On top of the water is 0.5 m of kerosene,
which is open to the atmosphere. If the temperature is 20
o
C, what is the gage pressure at the
bottom of the tank?
Solution: To be discussed in class.
Pressure Variation for Compressible Fluids
When the specific weight varies significantly throughout the fluid, it must be expressed in
such a form that equation (2) can be integrated.
For an ideal gas, the equation of state can be used to obtain the specific weight as

RT
pg
g (6)
To obtain pressure variation in the atmosphere, relation for temperature variation with altitude
(fig. 3.5) is substituted into equation (6), which in turn is substituted into equation (2).
Equation (2) is then integrated. The atmosphere is divided into two layers, the troposphere
and the stratosphere.
Pressure Variation in the Troposphere
The temperature variation in the troposphere can be approximated as

( )
o o
Z Z T T
(7)
where T
o
is the temperature at the reference level Z
o
and is the lapse rate.
The atmospheric pressure variation in the troposphere is therefore given by

( )
R g
o
o o
o
T
Z Z T
p p

1
]
1

(8)
where p
o
is the pressure at the reference level Z
o
.
Pressure Variation in the Stratosphere
In the stratosphere the temperature is assumed to be constant (see fig. 3.5).
The atmospheric pressure variation in the stratosphere is therefore given by

( ) RT g Z Z
o
o
e p p

(9)
where p
o
is the pressure at the reference level Z
o
. The reference level is usually the outer edge
of the troposphere.
3.3 Pressure Measurements
Manometry
This method utilizes the change in pressure with elevation to evaluate pressure.
The piezometer :
It can be used to measure pressure as shown in fig. 3.6. Here, the gage pressure in the
pipe is p = h.
It is not suitable for measuring large pressures. It is also not useful for pressure
measurement in gases.
The U-tube :
It can be used to measure pressure as shown in fig. 3.7.
To evaluate the unknown pressure, the procedure is to calculate the pressure changes,
step by step, from one level to the next.
The general manometer equation is

+
up
i i
down
i i
h h p p
1 2

(10)
Note: In the equation above, we traverse the fluids from point 1 to point 2.
The Differential Manometer :
It is used to measure the difference in pressure between two points in a pipe (see fig.
3.8).
The procedure for obtaining the pressure difference is the same as used for U-tube
manometer.
Example: Problem 3.30
What is the pressure at the center of pipe B? [See the figure in the textbook.]
Solution: To be discussed in class.
Bourdon-Tube Gage
A Bourdon-tube gage consists of a tube that is bent into a circular arc. Pressure is applied
through one end of the tube. The other end carries the pointer (See fig. 3.9).
When pressure is applied to the gage, the curved tube tends to straighten and the pointer
deflects proportionately to read the pressure.
Pressure Transducers
Pressure transducers are designed to produce electronic signals that can be transmitted to
oscillographs or digital devices and/or to control other devices for process operations.
An example of a pressure transducer is shown in fig. 3.10.
3.4 Hydrostatic Forces on Plane Surfaces
If a plane surface immersed in a fluid is horizontal, then
Hydrostatic pressure is uniform over the entire surface.
The resultant force acts at the centroid of the plane.
If a plane surface immersed in a fluid is not horizontal, then
Hydrostatic pressure is linearly distributed over the surface.
The magnitude and location of the resultant force are obtained by a more general type
of analysis.
F
F
Consider the plane surface AB immersed in a liquid and inclined at angle to the liquid
surface as shown in fig. 3.11.
The resultant hydrostatic force on the plane surface is
( ) A y F sin (11)
where
y
is the distance from the liquid surface to the centroid of the plane surface and
A is the area of the surface.
From equation (11) above, we can conclude that the magnitude of the resultant
hydrostatic force on a plane surface is the product of the pressure at the centroid of the
surface and the area of the surface, i.e.

A p F
(12)
Note: For most hydrostatic problems one side of the solid surface is exposed to the
atmosphere. The forces due to atmospheric pressure on both sides of the surface
cancel out. Therefore, the pressure used to calculate the force in equation (12) is gage
pressure.
The point where the resultant force acts on the surface is called the center of pressure
(CP).
The vertical location of the center of pressure from the liquid surface can be obtained
by finding the slant distance from the liquid surface to CP, which is:

A y
I
y y
cp
+
(13)
where is the second moment of area of the plane surface. See figure A.1 (in the
Appendix) for centroids and 2
nd
moments of area of various surfaces.
The horizontal location of the center of pressure can be obtained by equating moments
about an edge of the surface, as illustrated in Example 3.13.
Example: Problem 3.68
Determine the hydrostatic force F on the triangular gate, which is hinged at the bottom edge and
held by the reaction R
T
at the upper corner. Express F in terms of , h, and W. Also determine the
ratio R
T
/F. Neglect the weight of the gate. [See the figure in the textbook.]
Solution: To be discussed in class.
3.5 Hydrostatic Forces on Curved Surfaces
For a curved surface, the pressure forces, being normal to the local area element, vary in
direction along the surface and thus cannot be added numerically.
The resultant hydrostatic force is computed by considering the free-body diagram of a body of
fluid in contact with the curved surface, as illustrated below.
The steps involved in calculating the horizontal and vertical components of the hydrostatic
force F are as follows:
Summation of forces in the horizontal direction gives
F
x
= F
AC
where F
AC
is the hydrostatic force on plane surface AC. It acts through the center of
pressure of side AC.
Summation of forces in the vertical direction gives
F
y
= W + F
CB
where W is the weight of the fluid (acting through the center of gravity) of the free-
body diagram and F
CB
is the hydrostatic force (acting through the centroid) on the
surface CB.
The line of action of F
y
is obtained by summing the moments about any convenient
axis.
The hydrostatic force on the curved surface is equal and opposite to the force F on the
free-body diagram.
3.6 Buoyancy
A
B
A
B
F
A
B
F
C
W
F
CB
F
AC
Free-body
diagram
Principle of Buoyancy
The general principle of buoyancy is expressed in the Archimedes principle, which is stated
as follows:
For an object partially or completely submerged in a fluid, there is a net
upward force (buoyant force) equal to the weight of the displaced fluid.
The buoyant force passes through the centroid of the displaced volume (called the center of
buoyancy). Its magnitude is

D B
V F
where
D
V is the displaced volume (see the figures below).
Some remarks about the weight of an object
The weight of an object in a fluid medium refers to the tension in the spring when the object is
attached to a spring balance.
The weight (of the object) registered by the spring balance depends on the medium in which it
is measured. [See the illustration below.]
A
B
C
D
Body is completely submerged in
the fluid. The displaced volume is
equal to the volume of the body, i.e.
volume ABCDA.
A
B
C
D
Body is partially submerged in the
fluid. The displaced volume is
equal to volume ABCA.
W
T = W
Body in air
W
F
B
T = W - F
B
Body in water
The weight commonly referred to in daily use is the weight in air.
Example: Problem 3.84
A block of material of unknown volume is submerged in water and found to weigh 400 N (in
water). The same block weighs 700 N in air. Determine the specific weight and volume of the
material.
Solution: To be discussed in class.
Hydrometer
The device used for measuring the specific gravity of a liquid is the hydrometer. It utilizes the
principle of buoyancy.
The hydrometer is a glass bulb that is weighted on one end to make it float in a vertical
position (see fig. 3.17).
On the stem of the hydrometer is a scale which indicates the specific gravity of the liquid in
which it is floating.
Example: Problem 3.101
The hydrometer shown sinks 5.3 cm in water (15
o
C). The bulb displaces 1.0 cm
3
, and the stem
area is 0.1 cm
2
. Find the weight of the hydrometer.
Solution: To be discussed in class.
3.7 Stability of Immersed and Floating Bodies
Immersed Bodies
The stability of an immersed body depends on the relative positions of the center of gravity
(G) of the body and the center of buoyancy (C) . [See figure 3.18.]
If the center of buoyancy is above the center of gravity, the body is stable.
If the center of gravity is above the center of buoyancy, the body is unstable.
If the center of buoyancy and center of gravity are coincident, the body is neutrally
stable.
Floating Bodies
The stability of a floating body depends on the shape of the body and the position in which it
is floating.
If the center of gravity is below the center of gravity, the body is stable.
If the center of gravity is above the center of buoyancy, the body is stable if the
metacentric height is positive. The metacentric height is the distance from G to the
point of intersection of the lines of action of the buoyant force before and after heel
(see figure 3.19).