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Introduction to Fluid Flow

Learning Outcomes
After this lecture you should be able to…
Explain viscosity and how it changes with
Write the continuity equation
Define laminar and turbulent flow by using the
Reynolds number
Determine if a flowrate is laminar or turbulent
Write and Explain the Bernoulli equation
Apply the Bernoulli equation
Basics of Fluid Flow
A fluid is a substance that flows
When subjected to a shearing stress layers of the
fluid slide relative to each other
Both gases and liquids are defined as fluids
Fluid mechanics is the study of the flow of gases and
The degree of resistance to shear stress is
represented by the term ‘viscosity’
High viscosity means high resistance to shear stress
- does not flow easily
Dynamic Viscosity or Viscosity is a measure of
resistance to shearing motion
The unit is Ns/m2…….but it has no name!
The poise or centipoise is the SI cgs unit
1 centipoise = 1 x 10-3 Ns/m2
Typical values for viscosity
Water at 20°C = 1 cP
Air at 20°C = 1.8 x 10-2 cP
Crude Oil = 7.2 cP
Petrol = 0.29 cP
You may hear the term ‘kinematic viscosity’
This is dynamic viscosity divided by fluid density
Its SI cgs unit is the Stoke (= 1 cm2/s)
NB - Viscosity is a function of temperature. For
liquids, viscosity decreases as temperature increases
Basics Equations for Fluid Flow
The continuity equation Q = v.a
where v is the velocity (m/s) and a the area available
for flow (m2 e.g. cross sectional area of a pipe) and
Q is the flowrate (m3/s)
The Reynolds number is used to define laminar and
turbulent flow
Laminar flow is defined by slow moving, uniform,
even, smooth flow (e.g. a canal)
Turbulent flow is uneven and rough (e.g. a white
water river)
Bernoulli equation. Daniel Bernoulli lived in the 18th
century and derived a relationship between velocity,
height and pressure
The Continuity equation
Q - flowrate, m3/s
v - fluid velocity, m/s
a - area available for flow, m2
What is the flowrate from your kitchen tap?
(What is the volume of your kettle and how long
does it take to fill it?)
The pipe feeding the tap is 15mm. What is the cross
sectional area?
Use the continuity equation to determine the velocity
Continuity Equation contd.

Imagine a long pipe of varying diameter.

The flowrate is constant
Where the diameter is large, the velocity is small
Where the diameter is small, the velocity is large

1 2

d1 < d2
v1 > v2
Osborne Reynolds 1842 - 1912

A pioneer in Fluid Mechanics

He discovered the nature of flow depends on
Fluid physical properties
Geometry of the channel/pipe
Sometimes flow is even and smooth
Sometimes it is uneven and rough
He asked Why?
Reynolds Experiment
He investigated fluid flow using this apparatus

Reynolds Experiment - Velocity
His first discovery ……
At very low water flowrates, dye did not break up
Implies no mixing between dye and water!

Reynolds Experiment - Velocity
…..And at high water flowrates, dye did break up
Dye mixed with water

Reynolds Concluded that

At low flowrates we get streamline or laminar flow

Flow is characterised by streams that don’t mix
At high flowrates we get turbulent flow and a lot of

Increase Velocity
Further Experiments - Viscosity

Reynolds heated the water

When heated the change from laminar to turbulent
occurred sooner (at a lower velocity)
This is explained by viscosity
Viscosity decreases as temperature increases

Decrease Viscosity
Further Experiments - Density

Reynolds replaced water with liquids of different

The change from laminar to turbulent occurred
sooner for high density liquids

Increase Density
Further Experiments - Tube diameter
Reynolds used tubes of different diameter
He discovered that as the diameter increased the
change to turbulent occurred sooner

Increase Diameter
Reynolds Number
He combined these observations into a
dimensionless number which now carries his name

Re 
Re = Reynolds number
r = density (kg/m3)
v = velocity (m/s)
d = pipe diameter (m)
m = viscosity (kg/ms)
Activity - Laminar or Turbulent?

Is the flow from your kitchen tap laminar or

Determine the Reynolds No. and then use the table

0 < Re <2000 Laminar flow

2000 < Re < 4000 Transition region
Re > 4000 Turbulent flow
Daniel Bernoulli (1700 - 1782)
Bernoulli was a pioneer in
Science. His interests were
medicine and engineering
Bernoulli, with Leonard Euler,
investigated the relationship
between pressure and velocity
They punctured a pipe with a
straw and observed that the
height of liquid in the straw is
related to the pressure in the
This was used to measure
blood pressure where patients
arms were punctured with
glass capillaries
Conservation of Energy
Bernoulli reasoned that the sum of pressure and
kinetic energy is the same for any two points in a

1 2
rv PC

This implies that if the velocity increases, pressure

This is true for a horizontal pipe only.
Bernoulli Equation
Include a term for gravity, rgh, to get the Bernoulli
Equation as follows
rv2 P  rgh  C
This is often written as follows:
1 2 1 2
P1  rgh 1 rv1 P 2 rgh 2  rv2
2 2
Points 1 and 2 could be at two places in a pipe:
1 2

d1 < d2
v1 > v2
P1 < P2
Activity - Bernoulli Eqn Units

Determine the units of each term in the Bernoulli


rv2 P  rgh  C
Bernoulli Eqn Rearranged

Instead of expressing each term in units of

Pressure, rearrange to give units of height

v2 P
  h C
2g rg
How a chimney works
Point 1 is at the top of the chimney where the
velocity is the same as the wind speed
Point 2 is in the fireplace where the velocity is almost
Activity - Flow in a pipe

A water mains supply enters a Point 2

house at ground level (point 1) and V = 2 m/s
rises vertically to the attic tank at
an elevation of 10 m (point 2). No
change in diamter.
What is the DP?

Point 1
Activity - Bernoulli Eqn 2
Point 2
Same as before except the pipe 20mm
changes from 40mm diameter to V = 2 m/s
What is the DP?


Point 1
V = ? m/s
Conversion Table
Litre/s Litre/min m3/hr m3/s Ft3/hr Ft3/min gpm

1 Litre/s 1 60 3.6 0.001 127.1 2.119 15.85

1 litre/min 0.0167 1 0.06 1.66x10-5 2.12 0.035 0.264

1 m3/hr 0.278 16.67 1 0.00028 35.3 0.588 4.438

1 m3/s 1,000 60000 3,600 1 127,133 2,119 15,850

1 Ft3/hr 0.0078 0.472 0.0283 7.87x10-6 1 0.0167 0.124

1 Ft3/min 0.472 28.3 1.699 0.00047 60 1 7.481