VIS U AL P HYS ICS

S ch ool of P h ysi cs
U n i v er si t y of S yd n ey Au st r a l i a

FLUID FLOW
IDEAL FLUID
EQUATION OF CONTINUITY

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How can the blood deliver oxygen to body so successfully?
How do we model fluids flowing in streamlined motion?

IDEAL FLUID

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Fluid motion is usually very complicated. However, by making a
set of assumptions about the fluid, one can still develop useful
models of fluid behaviour. An ideal fluid is
• Incompressible – the density is constant
• Irrotational – the flow is smooth, no turbulence
• Nonviscous – fluid has no internal friction ( η = 0)
• Steady flow – the velocity of the fluid at each point is
constant in time.

EQUATION OF CONTINUITY (conservation of mass)
Consider an ideal fluid flowing through a pipe of varying cross
sectional area A. The volume V1 of fluid and mass m1 flowing
past (1) in a very small time interval ∆t is

a03/p1/fluids/flow2.doc

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V1 = A1 v1 ∆t m1 = ρ1 A1 v1 ∆t Similarly the volume and mass of fluid flowing past (2) in time ∆t is V2 = A2 v2 ∆t m2 = ρ2 A2 v2 ∆t When the flow is steady all the material which goes past (1) must go past (2) in the same time (or else it will be continually piling up somewhere) and since the fluid is incompressible its density does not change ρ1 = ρ2 = ρ Therefore we must have m1 = m2 ! ρ A1 v1 ∆t = ρ A2 v2 ∆t A1 v1 = A2 v2 If the fluid is approximately incompressible. ! The quantity A v which measures the volume of the fluid that flows past any point of the tube divided by time is called the volume flow rate Q = dV/dt.doc 2 . then the equation of continuity. if its density never changes by very much.e. The equation of continuity is often expressed as Q = A v = constant ⇒ if A decreases then v increases ⇒ if A increases then v decreases a03/p1/fluids/flow2. i. as we quoted it. is approximately true.

(Note: blood will clot if its speed falls too low. so the flow speed must fall to half. if it is important to keep the flow speed up. but speeds up to torrential speed when passing a narrows. the total cross-sectional area after the branch is twice that before the branch. the streamlines effectively define flow tubes. when going from deep to shallow. Applications • • • • • In flowing rivers. the flow speed increases (often becoming turbulent) "still water runs deep". These branch into smaller arteries (arterioles) that branch into a myriad of tiny capillaries and then the blood returns to the heart via the veins. Conversely. So the equation of continuity says that where streamlines crowd together the flow speed must increase. the pipes after the branch must have half the cross-sectional area of those before.) Blood flow – blood flows from the heart into the aorta then into the 32 major arteries.doc 3 . In the circulatory system of the blood there is a branching effect. Air conditioning systems must also be built with a03/p1/fluids/flow2. A river flows slowly and languidly through a meadow where it is broad.A1 A2 ρ ρ v2 v1 In complicated patterns of streamline flow. When a fluid flows past a Y-junction made up of pipes of the same diameter.

s-1 Assume steady flow of an ideal fluid and apply the equation of continuity Q = A v = constant ⇒ AA vA = AC vC where AA and AC are cross sectional areas of aorta & capillaries respectively. calculate the effective cross sectional area of the capillaries and the approximate number of capillaries. The average speed of blood through the capillaries is ~ 5×10-4 m.• ? consideration for the branch effect. A capillary has a radius ~ 4×10-3 mm but there are literally billions of them. Also the tube structure of the respiratory system is remarkably similar to that of the circulatory system. Action AC = AA (vA / vC) = πRA2 (vA / vC) AC = π(10×10-3)2(0.20 m2 If N is the number of capillaries then AC = N π RC2 N = AC / (π RC2) = 0.doc 4 .s-1 = 0. aorta vA = 300 mm. Blood flowing through our body The radius of the aorta is ~ 10 mm and the blood flowing through it has a speed ~ 300 mm.s-1.300 / 5×10-4) m2 = 0.s-1.2 / {π (4×10-6)2} N = 4×109 a03/p1/fluids/flow2. capillaries RC = 5×10-4 m. Setup radius of aorta RA = 10 mm = 10×10-3 m radius of capillaries RC = 4×10-3 mm = 4×10-6 m speed of blood thru.s-1 speed of blood thru.300 m.

doc 5 .a03/p1/fluids/flow2.