You are on page 1of 9

fluid properties-1 Basic Properties of Fluids

Before starting the study of fluid behavior, its dynamics and statics, we should have a brief overview of the basic properties of fluids and also a basic knowledge of the terms and quantities defined for fluids. In this article we will take up these basic introductory aspects of the fluids. By saying "study of fluids" we mean a broad area of study including liquids and gases and also a generalized study including different types of liquids and gases. In hydraulics only liquids are considered, and for hydraulics in civil engineering, water is the prime subject of study. Civil engineers have to design the water supply system, drainage system, irrigation canals, and dams. To do all this design and analysis a civil engineer should have a sound understanding of the basic properties of fluids. What is a Fluid? Fluid is a substance which can flow. Technically the flow of any substance means a continuous relative motion between different particles of the substance. Now, how and why does a fluid flow? The answer to "how" is the continuous relative motion between the particles of the fluid when shear force is acting on it. And the answer to "why" is the particles of fluid move past each other when shear force is applied because they cannot resist the shear force, i.e., they are inelastic to shear stress. A fluid can deform under shear stress indefinitely without returning to its original position. Properties of Fluids Page 1

fluid

properties-1

The term fluid includes both liquid and gases. The main difference between a liquid and a gas is that the volume of a liquid remains definite because it takes the shape of the surface on or in which it comes into contact, whereas a gas occupies the complete space available in the container in which it is kept. In hydraulics in civil engineering, the fluid for consideration is liquid, so, we will examine some terms and properties of the liquids. Mass Density: It is the mass of the fluid per unit volume. It unit is kg per cubic meter. Specific Weight: It is the weight per unit volume of the fluid. This quantity depends on the gravitational force of the place where the fluid is kept. The units for it are newton per cubic meter. Specific Volume: It is the volume occupied by the unit mass of the fluid. Its unit is cubic meter per kg. Relative Density or Specific Gravity: It is defined as the ratio of mass density of the fluid concerned and the mass density of water at standard pressure and temperature, i.e., 4 degrees Celsius and atmospheric pressure. Viscosity: Viscosity is the property of fluid which defines the interaction between the moving particles of the fluid. It is the measure of resistance to the Page 2

fluid properties-1 flow of fluids. The viscous force is due to the intermolecular forces acting in the fluid. The flow or rate of deformation of fluids under shear stress is different for different fluids due to the difference in viscosity. Fluids with high viscosity deform slowly. Compressibility: When pressure is applied on a fluid, its volume decreases. This property of a fluid is called compressibility. Elasticity: When the force generating the pressure on the fluid, is released it returns to its original volume. This property of a fluid is called elasticity of the fluid. Vapor Pressure: Molecules of a liquid escape from its surface to fill the space above the liquid surface and the container until such time when the pressure due to these molecules above the liquid surface reaches the vapor pressure of the liquid. This is how the vapor pressure of a liquid is defined. Surface Tension: The molecules on the surface of a liquid, that is, the interface between the liquid and the air are bound together by a week force called surface tension. This force makes the liquid form a layer and is caused due to the cohesive force between the molecules of the liquid. Capillarity: The molecules of a liquid have two types of forces Page 3

fluid properties-1 acting on them. One is, cohesive force, the force among the molecules of the liquid only, and the other one is adhesive force, the force acting between the molecules of the liquid and some other substance. When the adhesion between the liquid and the container wall is more than the cohesion among the liquid molecules, the liquid sticks to the container walls and this results in capillary rise. The opposite of this behavior happens when the cohesion is more than the adhesion - the capillary level dips Hydrostatics or Fluid Statics: Pressure Variation Fluids at rest have pressure as the major physical quantity to be considered, no flow behavior nor any shear forces. The fluid pressure results in the force acting on the bodies in contact with the fluid. In this article we will study how pressure develops and varies in a static fluid body. In Hydrostatics the fluid under consideration is static, that is, the fluid is not flowing and if the fluid is now flowing then there is no question of shear stress coming in to picture. Thus the only physical quantity under consideration for study in Hydrostatics or Fluid Statics is the pressure in the fluid and the variation of the pressure in the fluid body with depth. The interaction of the static fluid with the bodies in contact with it, whether submersed or floating, in the form of force applied, is a major point of study in the Hydrostatics of fluids or Fluid Statics in civil engineering. Pressure in fluid and its variation The interaction of the static fluid with its surroundings is in the form of force, which is applied equally on all contact points. This force is the result of the pressure applied on a Page 4

fluid properties-1 particular unit area. The pressure in the fluid is not constant throughout. The pressure in any body of fluid varies with depth and it increases with the depth of the fluid. But at the same level relative to the vertical direction the pressure will be same in the fluid. The increase in pressure as we go down the fluid is due to the weight of the fluid column above that level. The variation of the pressure with depth of the liquid column can be formulated with this simple analysis. Consider a vertical column of a liquid with a constant cross sectional area. The liquid under consideration is at rest so there is no shear forces acting or coming in to picture. The liquid column is in equilibrium so all the forces are balanced in the column. At any point in the column net force is zero. The weight of the column at any particular depth is balanced by the force due to pressure at that point. Thus, the pressure at that point is equal to the weight of the column at that point divided by the area of cross section of the liquid column. The weight of the column is equal to volume times density multiplied by the acceleration due to gravity. Volume of the liquid column is equal to height of the column times the area of cross section. Thus, the pressure at any particular depth is density of the liquid times acceleration due to gravity times the height of the liquid column above that point. As the density and acceleration due to gravity are constant for the range of problems considered in Civil Engineering Hydraulics, the pressure varies linearly with depth in liquid bodies. Pressure Measurement Devices Page 5

fluid

properties-1

Although there is a complete range of pressure measuring devices for different applications, ranging from simple gauges with low accuracy to complex gauges with high accuracy, instrument to measure low pressures and some to measure very high pressures, gauges using fluids and gauges without fluids, mechanical, electrical and even optical gauges, but I will present a few commonly used pressure gauges. Piezometer: It is a tube connected vertically to the liquid system whose pressure is to be measured. The liquid rises in the tube up to the point when the gauge pressure of the system is balanced by the weight of the liquid column in the tube. Pressure shown by the piezometer is the gauge pressure as the tube is open to the atmosphere on the other side. U-Tube Manometer: It is a U shaped tube open at both ends filled with an immiscible liquid. One end is connected to the fluid system whose pressure is to be measured and the other end is open to the atmosphere. Initially the manometer liquid columns in both the arms of the U-tube are at the same level. One end is connected to the system under consideration. The manometer liquid level falls in one arm and rises in the other arm. The difference in the manometer liquid levels in the two arms gives the gauge pressure of the system as the other end is open to the atmosphere. For measuring high pressures using a U-tube manometer, a heavy manometer liquid is used, and for measuring low pressures, a light manometer liquid is used. These two are the very basic and simple pressure measurement devices useful for simple applications. In the next article more advanced types of pressure measurement devices are taken Page 6

fluid up.

properties-1

Pressure Measurement: Pressure Measurement Devices Moderate pressure can be measured with sufficient accuracy by using simple pressure gauges like U-tube manometers. But when very low or high pressures are to be measured with high accuracy, advanced and more complex gauges are required. Common advanced pressure gauges are listed with some details. Inclined or Sloping U-tube Manometer: It is basically the same U-tube manometer just the tube is inclined at certain angle this time. This results in more deflection in the liquid level in the tube for the same change in pressure. This enables the measurement of small pressure changes with increased accuracy. Differential Manometer: It is used to measure the pressure difference between two points or between two systems. It is again a U-tube manometer with the two ends of the U-tube connected to the two systems between which pressure difference is to be measured. Depending on the range of pressure difference to be measured, a suitable liquid or combination of liquids can be filled in the two arms of the U-tube. If large pressure differences are to be measured a heavy manometer liquid is filled in the U-tube. And to measure very small pressure difference U-tube with long arms is used and two light liquids are filled in the two arms of the U-tube. Mechanical Pressure Measurement Gauges Page 7

fluid properties-1 Mechanical Pressure Measurement Devices do not read pressure of any system by deflection of liquid level in some sort of tube. Instead they use some solid object, such as, tube, plate, or diaphragm to measure pressure. The system whose pressure is to be measured is connected to the deflecting object. Any change in pressure causes the object to deflect and this deflection is mechanically amplified, by using a suitable gear and linkage mechanism, and indicated on the calibrated dial. Bourdon Gauge: It has a coiled tube whose one end is connected to the system under consideration and other end is sealed. With the application of the pressure in the tube it tends to straighten up and this causes deflection of the sealed end. The sealed end is connected to the indicating needle through a gear and linkage mechanism. The deflection of the sealed end results in movement of the needle which moves on a calibrated dial. Bourdon gauges can be used to measure a wide range of pressures. Diaphragm Gauge: Similar to the Bourdon Gauge, but has a Diaphragm which deflects on pressure changes and the deflection is indicated on the calibrated scale. Bellows Gauge: In such gauges indicating needle is driven by the deflection of bellows chamber. This gauge is suitable for measurement of very low pressures. Pressure Transducers Pressure Transducers use an electrical system in conjunction with mechanical gauges to convert the Page 8

fluid properties-1 deflection due to pressure changes into electrical signals. Pressure Transducers are useful to measure pressures continuously such that the electrical signal supplied to some control system can be used to monitor the pressure variations. Some typical types of pressure transducers can be capacitive, magnetic, resistive, or piezoelectric

Page 9