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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 understand.

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
liquid’s 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 10-3kg/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

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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 different.

Osborn Reynolds found that the type of flow is determined from the following

Re = ρ VD/µ

Where Re = Reynolds Number and has no dimensions

ρ = Density of the liquid (kg/m3)

V = Mean or average velocity (m/s)

D = The size of conduit (diameter of a pipe) (m)

µ = Dynamic viscosity

Reynolds found from experimentation that as a general rule:

Pipes Open

Laminar flow Re < 2000 Re < 500

Transistional flow Re = 2000 to 4000 Re = 500 to


Turbulent flow Re > 4000 Re > 500

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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 and if we relate this also to unit weight

of water,

It becomes 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 ρ g then AL =
W/ρ g.

Substituting this in the PE equation, we get,

PE = PW/ρ g and if we relate this again to unit

weight of water,

It becomes PE = P/ρ g and the units are metres

If we now combine all three forms of energy by adding them together, we


TE = z + V2/2g + P/ρ g and the units are


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/ρ g = z2 + V22/2g + P2/ρ 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/ρ g = z2 + V22/2g + P2/ρ g + energy

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 1850’s, designers had produced a number of purely empirical
pipe flow equations. The most important of these, normally known as
the D’Arcy 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 π 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 fluid’s 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 area.

Various early engineers attempted to relate normal depth to the factors

which obviously influenced it: the fluid’s average velocity, the geometry of
the channel’s cross-section, the roughness of the bed materials and the
slope of the channel’s bed.

Chezy (in 1775) was the first to succeed, when he produced the following
empirical equation.

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

Where 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

channel’s wall and bed material. However, this constant was soon found to
suffer from the limitations that were found with D’Arcy’s f factor. To make
matters worse, C was only suitable for the cross-sectional geometries used
by Chezy.

To find out how to measure the flow of water down a channel, take a look

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HOME page for Main Menu

1. Hydrostatic
(1) Stress in a Fluid
(2) Force per Volume

(3) Force per Mass

(4) Height
(5) Density
(6) Gravitational Acceleration

(7) Pressure Equation

(8) Border Conditions

(9) Pressure in terms of height
(10) Force as gradient of a

(11) State Equation

2. Hydrostatic - Lift

(1) Force on a submerged body

(2) Lift Force

3. Hydrodynamic Equation - without Viscosity

(1) Motion Equation

(2) Substantive Derivative of

(3) Substantive Derivative of
Momentum - Euler Equation

(4) Substantive Derivative of Mass

(5) Incompressive Fluid

(6) Velocity described in terms of a
(7) Equation for the Potential

(8) Bernoulli Equation

(9) Static Pressure

(10) Dynamic Pressure

(11) Mass flow conservation

(12) Speed of Flow at the bottom of
a column of height h

(13) Mass flow

4. Hydrodynamic Equation - with Viscosity

(1) Viscosity Force

(2) Navier-Stokes Equations

(3) Reynold Number

(4) Force on a body in the stream

(5) Drag Force on a Platt in a Fluid

5. Hydrodynamic Equation - Sphere dragged al low Reynold

(1) Case of small Reynold numbers
(2) Static Equation for a Sphere in
a Liquid

(3) Solution, Pressure

(4) Force on the Sphere

6. Hydrodynamic Equation - Pipe flow
(1) Static Equation for a pipe flow
(2) Length of the Pipe
(3) Viscosity
(4) Pressure difference between
the two ends of the Pipe
(5) Radius of the Pipe
(6) Speed distribution in terms of
the radius of the Pipe

(7) Mass flow trough the Pipe

7. Hydrodynamic Equation - Body at high Reynold numbers

(1) High Reynold number
(2) Representig the inertia in terms
of an effective Force

(3) Drag force

(4) Cross section of the body

(5) Drag Coefficient
(6) Power

8. Vortex

(1) Vortex

(2) Close Vortex strings

(3) Entropy

(4) Ertel Vortex Law

(5) Vortex Equation

(6) Circulation

(7) Thomson Law

(8) Helmholtz Vortex Law

(9) Vortex Field

(10) Velocity in terms of the Vortex

9. Potential Flow
(1) Vortex Free
(2) Velocity in terms of a scalar
(3) Equation for the scalar Potential
(4) Complex variable
(5) Complex Function

(6) Complex Velocity components

(7) Equipotential lines

(8) Flow lines

(9) General Equation

(10) General Solution

(11) First Coefficient

(12) Second Coefficient

(13) Kutta-Joukowsky Law (1)

(14) Kutta-Joukowsky Law (2)
(15) Torque on the body
10. Potential Flow - Example Cylinder

(1) Solution

(2) Velocity

(3) Points with no flow

(4) Pressure on the surface

(5) No Drag Force

(6) Lift Force (Magnus Effect)
(7) No Torque

(8) Transformation for other Profiles

11. Potential Flow - Example Sphere

(1) Solution

(2) Velocity

(3) Pressure

12. Potential Flow - Example Ocean Waves

(1) Solution
(2) Horizontal Waves

(3) Vertical Waves

(4) Wave Speed

(5) Case deep water

(6) Case shallow water

13. Potential Flow - Example Capillary Waves

(1) Solution

(2) Surface

(3) Speed

(4) Capillary Height

14. Potential Flow - Example Rotating Cylinder

(1) Velocity
(2) Vortex
(3) Circulation

(4) Height of Level