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Fluids in Motion
Laminar and Turbulent flow
Reynolds Number
Continuity Equation
Bernoulli Equation
Friction Loss Formula
Flow in Open Channels
Chezy Equation

Hydrostatics is very simple from the mathematical point of view and the ancient Greeks were
familiar with the basic principles.
Now that we are dealing with moving liquids, viscosity, turbulence and friction have to be
considered but they are far too complex for simple mathematical treatment. It is important
that you appreciate that we have a new ball game here.
You probably have some idea what friction is; it is the resistance to motion experienced by a
liquid flowing over a solid boundary like a pipe wall or sides of a culvert. It therefore must
make sense that energy will be needed to overcome friction and keep the liquid moving.
Turbulence is just a random motion, like eddies in the air when a large lorry drives past you
at speed and energy is required to generate the turbulence, but viscosity is not quite so easy to

Viscosity is a measure of internal friction of the fluid, or its resistance to flow and movement.
(More formally, viscosity is described as a measure of a liquids resistance to shear stress).
For example, cold treacle is very stiff and does not flow easily, while water is thin and runny.
The difference is that water has a low viscosity and treacle a high viscosity.
If the treacle were heated up, it would flow much easier. So we can say that viscosity
changes with temperature (which is why car engines use multigrade oils, for example, to cope
with large changes in temperature).
At 100 C the dynamic viscosity of water falls to 0.284 x 10-3 kg/ms indicating that the liquid
is getting thinner. At 20 C it is 1.005 x 10-3 kg/ms. Furthermore the density changes from
998.2 kg/m3 at 20 C to 958.4 kg/m3 at 100 C, showing that it is lighter at higher temps.
As a point of interest, why does ice float in water??
Water is the only material increases in density as it cools and then reduces its density when it
solidifies or freezes. hence, ice is less denser than water and thus floats in water.
Viscosity is the most important single property that affects the behaviour of a fluid. The more
viscous the fluid, the thicker it is and the slower it deforms under stress.
Whilst it is one of the most important factors controlling the flow and behaviour of a fluid, it
does not appear in the equations that we will look at later. However, it is incorporated in one
of the dimensionless parameters that will define and classify the type of flow and we call this
Reynolds Number.
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Types of Fluid Flow.
There are many different types of fluid flow. One of the first things you have to do when
investigating a problem involving moving fluids is to define the type of flow that you are
dealing with. Having done that, you will have an idea of which equations can be applied to
the problem.
The first step is to decide if the flow is Laminar or Turbulent.

Laminar flow is usually associated with slow moving, viscous fluids. It is relatively rare in
nature, although an example would be the flow of water through an aquifer. Groundwater
velocities may be as little as a few metres per year.
Turbulent flow is much faster and chaotic, and is the type usually encountered. A good
example would be flow in a mountain stream.
Between Laminar and turbulent flow is something we call Transistional Flow.
Whether the flow is laminar, transitional or turbulent is very important with respect to the
flow of liquid through pipelines since the characteristics of the three flow regimes are very
Osborn Reynolds found that the type of flow is determined from the following equation:
Re = VD/
Where Re = Reynolds Number and has no dimensions
= Density of the liquid (kg/m3)
V = Mean or average velocity (m/s)
D = The size of conduit (diameter of a pipe) (m)
m = Dynamic viscosity
Reynolds found from experimentation that as a general rule:

Open Channels

Laminar flow

Re < 2000

Transistional flow

Re = 2000 to 4000

Re = 500 to 2000

Turbulent flow

Re > 4000

Re > 500

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Re < 500

Steady and Unsteady flow.

Another significant way of classifying the flow is to determine whether it is Steady or
Unsteady. The key concept here is whether or not the discharge is changing with respect to
time. In steady flow, the discharge Q is constant with respect to time. In unsteady flow, the
discharge Q is not constant with respect to time.
As explained before, turbulent flow is the most common type of flow and is characterised by
fluctuations in velocity, so it could never truly be called steady. However, the definition is
usually loosely interpreted so that if the mean velocity and discharge are not changing over a
period of time, the flow is said to be steady. Minor fluctuations are ignored.
Uniform and non-uniform flow
The key concept here is whether or not the cross-sectional area of flow and mean velocity
change from one section to the next along the length of the conduit (pipe or channel) when
the discharge is constant. For the flow to be Uniform the area (depth and width) and the
mean pipe velocity must be the same at each successive cross-section. An example would be
a pipe of constant diameter running full. It follows that Non-uniform flow occurs where the
cross-sectional area and mean velocity change from section to section, as would be the case
with a pipeline of varying diameter.
Continuity Equation
The continuity equation is derived from first principles. It is based on the concept of the
conservation of mass between two cross-sections of a continuous conduit. It is generally
written as:
Q = A1V1 = A2V2
Where A is the cross sectional are of flow and V is the mean velocity. The equation can be
applied to as many sections as required. It is used whenever we need to calculate the mean
velocity from a known discharge and area or to calculate the discharge from the known
velocity and area. It can also tell us what happens to the velocity when the area changes (V2
= V1[A1/A2] ).

For example, if the cross-sectional area of a pipe that is running full is halved, then the mean
velocity of flow must double in order to discharge the same quantity of water through the
reduced section. Of course, both sections must have the same discharge (Q1 = Q2) otherwise
water would be either disappearing or magically appearing from nowhere within the
The continuity equation is very simple, but it is one of the three most important equations in
hydraulics. You should never forget it!!!!
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The Energy (or Bernoulli) Equation
The energy equation, also known as the Bernoulli equation is another major tool that we can
use to analyse a hydrodynamic system. Sometimes this and the continuity equation are
needed to solve a particular problem.
Energy is defined as the capacity for doing work. Work (done) is defined as a force
multiplied by the distance moved in the direction of the force and consequently has the units
Nm. Power is the rate of doing work, i.e. the product of a force and the distance moved per
second in the direction of the force (Nm/s).
There are three ways that something can possess energy. Perhaps the easiest to understand is
that a body can have energy as a result of being raised to some height, z. Thus if a car is
driven to the top of a hill, it can freewheel down again and do work by virtue of its elevation.
This is called the Potential Energy of the body.
Potential energy = Mgz
Where M is the mass of the body, and g is the acceleration due to gravity.
M x g is the weight of the body W.
So ......

PE = Wz

and if we relate this to unit weight of water, i.e. that of 1 cubic metre. (Because volumetric
flow rate is cubic metres per second)
It becomes

PE = z

and the units are metres.

Another form of energy is Kinetic Energy. This is the energy possessed by a moving body.
Kinetic energy = 1/2 MV2
Where V is the velocity of the body.
If W = Mg then M = W/g thus:
KE = 1/2 WV2/g
It becomes

and if we relate this also to unit weight of water,

KE = V2/2g

and the units are metres.

The third form of energy will be less familiar since it has no direct equivalent in solid
mechanics. It is the energy of a fluid when flowing under pressure, so it is referred to as
Pressure Energy. If a liquid has a pressure P which acts over an area A then it is capable of
exerting a force of P x A. In moving though a distance L, the flow work done is P x A x L or
PAL. So,
Pressure energy = PAL
If we think of this equation as representing the pressure energy of a stream of moving liquid,
then A x L represents the volume of the liquid. If this volume has a weight W, and the weight
density of the liquid is rg then AL = W/rg.
Substituting this in the PE equation, we get,
PE = PW/g
It becomes

and if we relate this again to unit weight of water,

PE = P/g

and the units are metres

If we now combine all three forms of energy by adding them together, we get,
TE = z + V2/2g + P/g

and the units are metres

which is equal to the total energy per unit weight of the fluid.
Or per cubic metre of water.
This is the energy equation or Bernoulli equation.
This equation is frequently used to investigate how the energy varies between two points in a
fluid. Usually the centre line of a pipe for example.
If we apply Bernoulli to two points on the centreline of a pipe, 1 and 2, we make the
assumption that the total energy at points 1 and 2 is the same. (i.e. There is no loss of
energy). Although energy may change from one form to another, the following is true,
z1 + V12/2g + P1/g = z2 + V22/2g + P2/g
With a real fluid, there will be a certain amount of energy lost due to friction and so the
equation becomes,
z1 + V12/2g + P1/g = z2 + V22/2g + P2/g + energy losses
z is measured in metres, V in metres per second and P in N/m2.
However, each term in the Bernoulli equation has overall unit of metres. Thus they are
often referred to as heads: elevation head, velocity head and pressure head.
All three terms are measured in metres and can be called Heads. The sum of the three terms
is often called the Total Head as an alternative to the Total Energy.
Energy Losses is the Head loss due to friction and also has the unit metres.
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The search for a friction loss formula
Frictional losses are the most important features in pipe flow and pipeline design. By the
1850s, designers had produced a number of purely empirical pipe flow equations. The most
important of these, normally known as the DArcy Equation, relates the frictional head loss
as follows:

Hloss = 4 x f x L x V2
Hloss = 64 x f x L x Q2
2 x g x d5 x 2
The bulk of the terms can be measured accurately but a factor f is included to make the
measured head loss equate to the known length and diameter of pipe and the measured flow
rate or average velocity.
Initially, this equation gave quite accurate results. However, as engineers attempted to use it
for pipe shapes, diameters and velocities other than those from which the equation had been
developed, it was soon discovered that f was far from a simple constant. Today we know
that f not only varies with the pipe diameter and the fluid velocity, but also with the Reynolds
number of the flow.
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Flow in Open Channels
Whilst less common than pressure pipes, open channels are still widely used and enter into
the work of a variety of civil engineering specialists.
The basic difference from a pressure pipe is simply that in an open channel, the fluids
surface is exposed to atmospheric pressure. Thus the hydraulic grade line coincides with the
surface of the fluid, and the cross-sectional area of flow decreases and increases as the
discharge rate varies.
When water enters an open channel, the depth of flow gradually diminishes and then
becomes constant throughout the channel, provided that its geometric cross-section and bed
slope does not vary. This depth is known as Normal depth.
Normal depth thus can only occur where a balance exists between acceleration down the
channel and frictional retardation against the flow. In most real life cases, this is in the

middle reaches of long straight lengths of channel of reasonably uniform cross-sectional

Various early engineers attempted to relate normal depth to the factors which obviously
influenced it: the fluids average velocity, the geometry of the channels cross-section, the
roughness of the bed materials and the slope of the channels bed.
Chezy (in 1775) was the first to succeed, when he produced the following empirical
V = C x (m x i)
Where V = Average velocity
C = Chezy constant
m = Hydraulic radius or mean depth
i = Slope of channel bed

m = A/P

A = Area of flow
P = Wetted perimeter

(which for a rectangular channel would be the width plus 2 x depth of flow.)
The constant C was included to give a measure of the roughness of the channels wall and
bed material. However, this constant was soon found to suffer from the limitations that were
found with DArcys f factor. To make matters worse, C was only suitable for the crosssectional geometries used by Chezy.
To find out how to measure the flow of water down a channel, take a look here.

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