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Dimensional Analysis:

Dimensional analysis is a method to describe a physical phenomenon by a

dimensionally correct equation among certain variables which affect the phenomenon. It
reduces the number of variables and arranges them into dimensionless groups useful for
phenomenon which defy analytical solution and must be solved experimentally.

Fundamental dimensions: Mass (M), Length (L), time (T) and temperature (Q). In place
of mass, the force is also considered as a fundamental quantity.
Dimensional Homogeneity: Dimensional analysis is based on Fourier’s “Principle of
Dimensional Homogeneity”. An equation is said to be dimensionally homogeneous if the
form of the equation does not depend upon the units of measurement. To satisfy this
condition, the dimensions of each side of equation must be same.
The empirical equations involving numerical coefficients are dimensionally non

Methods of Dimensional analysis:

Total number of variables = number of Independent variables + one dependent variable.

Rayleigh’s Method: Gives a special form of relationship among the dimensionless groups.

1. It does not provide any information regarding the number of dimensionless groups to be
obtained as a result of dimensional analysis.
2. The method becomes rather cumbersome when a large number of parameters are
Buckingham – π Theory (or method of repeating variables): It offers an advantage over
Rayleigh’s method in letting us know, in advance of the analysis as to how many
dimensionless groups are to be expected.
The method expresses the equation in terms of dimension less groups (π terms),
Number of π terms = (n-m) where n = total number of variables, m = number of repeating
Selection of repeating variables:
1. A variable describing geometry of flow such as diameter, length,
2. A fluid property ex: Viscosity, density, surface tension, elasticity and vapour pressure.
3. A variable characterizing the fluid motion. Eg. Velocity, acceleration, discharge.
Note: The nature or form of the dimensionless terms would entirely depend upon the selection of
repeating variables.
Matrix approach Number of dimensionless groups:
The number of dimensionless groups = n r where ‘r’ Rank of dimensional matrix. It is the
order of the determinant whose value is not equal to zero.
As per Buckingham theorem ‘m’ is the number of repeating or Fundamental variables but
the number of fundamental variables depend on the system used. If for a phenomenon ‘F’ and ‘L’
are chosen fundamental dimensions m = 2. But F = MLT-2. Hence if M-L-T system is chosen,
m = 3.The dimensional matrix method avoids the confusion over value of ‘m’ depending on
Model and prototype:
Prototype is the full size machine. Model is the tool for studying the behavior of a
prototype. It may be larger, smaller or even of the same size as the prototype.
Types of similarity: For complete similarity to exist between the model and its prototype. It is
necessary that it must be geometrically, kinematically and dynamically similar.
a) Geometric similarity:
Similarity of shape, to satisfy this condition the ratios of the corresponding lengths in the
model and its prototype must be same.

This ratio is also known as scale factor

b) Kinematic similarity:
Similarity of motion. Streamline pattern in model must be same as that in its prototype.
The ratios of kinematic quantities flow characterizing such as time, velocity, acceleration and
discharge must be same at all corresponding points.

c) Dynamic similarity:
Corresponding forces have the same ratio throughout the flow field i.e., similarity of forces.
i) For either dynamic or kinematic similarity to exist geometric similarity is a prerequisite.
ii) If two flow fields are dynamically similar, they are necessarily, kinamatically and geometrically
Various force ratios:
a) Reynolds number (Re): Inertia force/viscous force =

i) Completely submerged flow (air planes, torpedo etc.)
ii) Completely submerged flow (air planes, for flow through pipes and plates)
iii) Viscous flow (settling of particles fluids) flow in flow meters in pipes (venturimeter,
Orifice meter etc.).
b) Froude Number(Fr) : Inertia force/gravity force = V/√g
Significance: For open channel flow where free surface is present, wave action as in
breakwaters and ships, hydraulic structures such as spillways, stilling basins, weirs and
notches, forces on Bridge piers and off shore structures.
c) Euler number (R): V / √ 2 dp/p.
It is derived from ratio of Inertia and pressure forces.
 Reciprocal of Euler number is called Newton number.
Significance: In cavitation studies, the pressure force is important in addition to the viscous
force, and the dynamic similarity will be obtained when the Reynolds and Euler numbers
are kept the same for model and prototype.

d) Cauchy number: Inertia force/Elastic force =

e) Mach number (M): Stream velocity / Acoustic velocity in the fluid medium =

Significance: For compressible flows, high speed flows, motion of objects like aero plane
and projectiles through air at supersonic speeds.

f) Weber Number (W): Inertia force/surface tension force =

In formation of water droplet or bubbles, flows of shallow depth over spillways,
dams etc., for dynamic similarity to exist between a model and a prototype,

depending on the significance of various forces.