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Outflow of water: how the level goes down with time
Abhijit Kar Gupta

Physics Department, Panskura Banamali College, Panskura East Midnapore, West Bengal, Pin Code: 721 152 e-mail: kg.abhi@gmail.com

The following is a simple problem in connection with water flow. Let us think of water (or any low viscous liquid) that comes out of a container through a hole near its bottom. The water level in the container diminishes as a result. But how does it come down with time? Also how does it depend on the shape of the container? We can do a simple exercise to have an estimate.
Cylinder

h0
h

water jet
Velocity of water jet, v = 2 gh [From Bernoulli’s theorem] The rate of volume of water coming out through the hole in the bottom: dV = a 2 gh ; a = area of the hole at the bottom of the cylinder dt

Volume of water at any moment in the cylinder, V = π .r 2 h dV dh ∴ = π .r 2 [For a cylinder, r = constant] dt dt dh Or, π .r 2 = − a 2 g .h1 / 2 [Negative sign is added as the volume is decreasing] dt a 2g 1/ 2 dh h = − k .h1 / 2 Or, =− 2 dt π .r Integrating on both sides, −1. / 2 1/ 2 ∫ h dh = −k ∫ dt Or, 2.h = −k.t + c

2 At t = 0 , h = h0 [Initial water level in the cylinder]
∴ 2.(h1 / 2 − h0
1/ 2

∴ c = 2.h0

1/ 2

.

) = −k .t k 1/ 2 (1) Or, h1 / 2 = h0 − .t 2 If we now plot h1 / 2 against time t as this can be done with experimental data also, we can get a straight line.

h

t

From (1) we can also write, k2 2 h = h0 − k . h0 .t + t = h0 − α .t + β .t 2 (2) 4 Thus the height-time decay relationship is a polynomial. Let us now calculate typical values of k , α and β .
k= a 2g

π .r 2

=

π × (0.1) 2 × 2 × 980 ≅ 28 × 10 −3 . π × 42

Here we have taken, r = 4 cm The radius of the cylinder 2 a = π × (0.1) sq. cm The area of the hole at the bottom of the cylinder. If the initial level of water is h0 = 50 cm,

α = k h0 = 28 × 10 −3 × 50 = 19.8 × 10 −2
k 2 (28 × 10 −3 ) 2 = = 19.6 × 10 −5 4 4 ∴ α > β , which ensures the decay of h with t in (2)

β=

h

t To calculate the time duration for the cylinder to be empty:

3
2 × h0 k 2 × 50 = 505 sec = 8.4 min. 28 × 10 −3

Put h = 0 in (1), t =
Conical Flask:

=

1 Volume of water, V = π .r 2 h 3 dV 1  dr dh  ∴ = π 2.r. .h + r 2  dt 3  dt dt 
r = λ (const.) h dh 1  dh  π dV dh dh = π 2.λ .h.λ .h + λ2 h 2  = × 3.λ2 h 2 ∴ = π .λ2 h 2 dt 3  3 dt dt dt dt  For a conic we have,

h

Water jet We write as before, a 2 gh = −π .λ2 h 2
a 2g dh =− = −k dt π .λ2 Integrating, 2 5/ 2 h = − k .t + c 5 At t = 0 , h = h0 2 2 5/ 2 ∴ h 5 / 2 = .h0 − k .t 5 5

dh dt

Or, h 3 / 2

4 Or, h 5 / 2 = h0 5 − k .t (3) 2 We can also get a polynomial, as before, in the decay relationship between height and time. Equation (3) can be rewritten as 25 5 5/ 2 5 (4) h 5 = h0 − 5.k .h0 .t + .k 2 .t 2 = h0 − α .t + β .t 2 4 Here also it is better to plot h 5 / 2 against time t , as in (3), to see a straight line.
5/ 2

The above results can easily be verified experimentally. All we have to do is to take a sufficiently long glass container of desired shape. We have to fix a scale on the wall of it. A stop watch may be used to record the time as the water level starts descending. The appropriate power of the height (water level) may be plotted with time to check whether the relationship is a straight line. For example, we have to plot h1 / 2 with t in the case of a cylinder and h 5 / 2 vs. t in the case of a conical shape. -------------------------------------------------------