Faculty of Engineering
DEPARTMENT OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
ME 316 Thermo Fluid Lab
Experiment 5 Center of Pressure on a Plane Surface
AIMS
The objective of this experiment is to determine the hydrostatic force and the centre of pressure on a rectangular surface
when it is partially or fully submerged in water.
APPARATUS
Figure 1: Hydrostatic Pressure Apparatus
BASIC THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
Hydrostatic force acting on the rectangular face:
A gh P
C
= (1)
Center of pressure (point of application):
A y
I
y y
C
C D
+ = (2) where y
c
: position of the centroid and y
d
: position of center of pressure
2
+ Partial immersion
2
y
y h
C C
= = ; area: A = by (3)
Hence
2
2
1
gby P = (4)
6
2
12
2
3
y
by
by
y y
C D
= = (5)
And ( )

.

\

+ = 
.

\

+ + =
3 2
y
d a y y
y
d a h
c d
(6)
Moment M of pressure force (P) about knifeedge axis is given by:
( )

.

\

+ + = 
.

\

+ + = =
6 2 2
1
2
2
y y
d a gby y y
y
d a P Ph M
c d
(7)
And then 
.

\

+ =
3 2
1
2
y
d a gby M (8)
At equilibrium, we must have: M =Ph = mgL ; where m = mass added to balance pan
Thereby: 
.

\

+ =
3 2
1
2
y
d a by mL (9)
And also: h= mgL/P with P given by Eq. (4) (10)
Eq. (6)

.

\

+ =
3
y
d a h can be considered as the theoretical value of h and Eq. (10) the experimental value of h.
m
L
a
y
d
b
y
D y
C
Water surface
h
3
+ Complete immersion
2
d
y y h
C C
= = ; A = bd (11)
Hence bd
d
y g P 
.

\

=
2
(12)
( ) ( ) 2 / 12 2 /
12
2
3
d y
d
d y bd
bd
y y
C D
= (13)
And ( )
( )


.

\

+ + =

.

\

+ + =
2 / 12 2
2
d y
d
d a y y
y
d a h
c d
(14)
Moment M of P about knifeedge axis is given by:
( )
( )


.

\

+ +

.

\

=

.

\

+ + =
2 / 12 2 2 2
2
d y
d d
a
d
y gbd y y
d
a P M
c d
(15)
At equilibrium M=Ph =mgL; thereby,
( )


.

\

+ +

.

\

=
2 / 12 2
2
d y
d
d a
d
y bd mL (16)
And also: h= mgL/P with P given by Eq. (12) (17)
Eq. (14)
( )


.

\

+ + =
2 / 12
2
d y
d
d a h gives the theoretical value of h and Eq. (17) the experimental value of h.
m
L
a
y
d
b
y
D
y
C
Water surface
h
4
PROCEDURE
1. Measure the dimensions a, b, and d, and the distance L from the knife edge axis to the balance pan axis.
2. Level the tank, using the adjustable feet in conjunction with the spirit level and make sure to close the drain valve.
3. Start with the tank empty. Move the counterbalance weight until the balance arm is horizontal.
4. Add a small mass (typically 50g) to the weight hanger.
5. Slowly add water to the tank allowing time for the water levels to stabilize.
6. Add water until the hydrostatic pressure causes the balance arm to recover the horizontal position.
7. Fine adjustment of the water level may be achieved by over filling and slowly draining, using the drain cock.
8. Note the water level on the scale.
9. Repeat the procedure under section (4) for different masses : 5 masses for water levels y > d (complete
immersion) and 5 masses for y < d (partial immersion)
10. Repeat readings for reducing masses on the balance pan.
11. All record data can be arranged as shown in table 1 and 2.
12. Make sure to convert all measurements to SI units in order to obtain the right values of P and mgL (in
Newton). Convert the experimental value of h to cm.
REPORT
For y< d (partial immersion)
1/ Plot P against y (depth) and comment on the graph.
From (8)
( )
By A y
L
b
L
d a b y
d a
L
b
y
m
=
+
= 
.

\

+ =
6 2 3 2
2
; With
( )
L
b
B
L
d a b
A
6
and
2
=
+
= (theoretical values)
2/ Plot
2
*
y
m
m = against y with the measured values and fit the curve with a straight line (experimental curve).
For y> d (complete immersion)
3/ Plot P against y (depth) and comment on the graph.
From Eq. (16)
( )


.

\

+ +

.

\

=
2 / 12 2
2
d y
d
d a
d
y bd mL ; if we introduce the variable

.

\

=
2
*
d
y y


.

\

+ =


.

\



.

\

+ 
.

\

+ =


.

\

+ + =
* *
3
*
2
*
1 1
12 2 12 2 y
B A
y L
bd d
a
L
bd
y
d d
a
L
bd
y
m


.

\

= 
.

\

+ =
L
bd
B
d
a
L
bd
A
12
and
2
where
3
4/ Plot
*
*
y
m
m = against
*
1
y
with the measured values and fit the curve with a straight line (experimental curve).
CONCLUSIONS
Comment on the variation of P and h with y. Give reasons for the discrepancies, if any, between the measured and
theoretical values of h.
Compare the theoretical and experimental values of A and B. Give reasons for the discrepancies, if any, between the
measured and theoretical values.
5
Table 1. Between brackets: given values; confirm with your own measurements.
a+d (cm) b( cm) d(cm) L (cm)
.(200mm) ..(75 mm) .(100 mm) .(275 mm)
Table. 2 : Notation: CP= Center of Pressure
Patital immersion ; y < d
2
2
1
gby P =

.

\

+ =
3
.
y
d a h
theor
2
*
y
m
m =
Complete immersion ; y > d
bd
d
y g P 
.

\

=
2
( )


.

\

+ + =
2 / 12
2
.
d y
d
d a h
theor
*
*
y
m
m =

.

\

=
2
*
d
y y
Increasing masses
Case m (g) y (cm) P (N)
Theoretical
CP position
(cm)
Experimental
CP position
(cm)
h
exp
= mgL/P
m
*
*
1
y
Patital immersion
y < d
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Complete immersion
y > d
Decreasing masses
Case m (g) y (cm) (N)
Theoretical
CP position
Experimental
CP position
m
*
*
1
y
Complete immersion
y > d
Patital immersion
y < d
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA