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# STABILITY OF FLOATING BODIES (White pp 92 95)

## A floating body is STABLE if, when it is displaced, it returns to equilibrium.

A floating body is USTABLE if, when it is displaced, it mo!es to a new equilibrium.
"onsider a floating body tilted by an angle , as shown below. #or the untilted body the point \$ is the
centre of gra!ity of the body where the body weight, %, acts. The point B is the centre of buoyancy
&the centroid of the displaced !olume of fluid' where the upward buoyancy force, #B, acts.
%hen the body is tilted the centre of buoyancy mo!es to a new position, B(, because the shape of the
displaced !olume changes. A new point, ), may be defined, called the )ETA"ET*E. This is the
point where a !ertical line drawn upwards from the new centre of buoyancy, B(, of the tilted body
intersects the line of symmetry of the body. The buoyancy force, #B, now acts through B(.
#rom the centre diagram in the figure we can see that % and #B gi!e a *EST+*,\$ )+)ET that
rotates the body bac- to its untilted position. #rom the right hand diagram in the figure we can see that
% and #B gi!e an +.E*TU*,\$ )+)ET that rotates the body e!en further in the tilted
direction.
/ence, we can say0 if the metacentre, ), lies abo!e the centre of gra!ity, \$, then the body is stable. ,n
other words the )ETA"ET*," /E,\$/T, )\$, is positi!e &)\$ 1 2) 3 2\$ 4 5'. ,f the metacentre, ),
lies below the centre of gra!ity, \$, then the body is unstable. ,n other words the metacentric height,
)\$, is negati!e &)\$ 6 5'.
The metacentric height, )\$, is gi!en by
\$B
.
,
)\$ or \$B )B )\$
S
= =
where , is the 7
nd
moment of area of the plan section of the body
where it cuts the waterline &this is the solid plane surface you8d see
if you cut hori2ontally through a solid body at the water surface
lifted the top part up and loo-ed at the bottom of it9', .S is the
submerged !olume &i.e. !olume of fluid displaced' and \$B is the
distance between the centre of gra!ity and the centre of buoyancy
&1 2\$ : 2B'.

W
W
W
G G
G
B
B
B
B'
B'
F
B
F
B
F
B
M
M

Untilted Restoring
Moment
Overturning
Moment

G
B
z
B
z
G
M
z
M
Strategy for sol!ing buoyancy problems
&;' #rom geometry of body and density of fluid and body equate0 %eight of displaced fluid 1 Total
weight of body. This gi!es the depth of immersion of the body or the weight of the body, whiche!er
is un-nown.
&7' To assess stability, first find the location of the centre of gra!ity \$ of the body.
&<' Then, find the location of the centre of buoyancy B &centroid of displaced !olume'. #or a regularly
shaped body this will be at half the height of the immersed portion of the body.
&=' "alculate the distance \$B.
&>' "alculate )B, using )B 1 , ? .S. ote , 1 @
=
?A= for a circular section body and bd
<
?;7 for a
rectangular section body &@ is diameter, b and d are the sides of the rectangle'.
&A' "alculate metacentric height, )\$ &1 2) : 2\$', from )\$ 1 )B : \$B. ,f )\$ 4 5 then body is
stable. ,f )\$ 6 5 then body is unstable.
EBample
A solid cylindrical pine &S\$15.>' spar buoy has a cylindrical lead &S\$1;;.<' weight attached as
shown. @etermine the equilibrium position &i.e. depth of immersion' of the buoy in seawater
&S\$1;.5<'. "alculate the metacentric height and show that the buoy is stable.
%eight of fluid displaced 1 %eight of body
d A ;.5< 1 5.;> A ;;.< C =.DD A 5.>
where A 1 @
7
?=
/ence, d 1 =.5; m
#ind centre of gra!ity of complete buoy by ta-ing
moments of the weight about the base &+'E
\$+ 1 2\$ 1 5.;> A ;;.< &5.;>?7' C =.DD A 5.> &=.DD?7 C 5.;>' 1 ;.>A m
5.;> A ;;.< C =.DD A 5.>
"entre of buoyancy &B+' will be at half the height of the
submerged part of the body &i.e. half the height of the
displaced !olume'. /ence, B+12B1d?7 1 7.55m.
\$B 1 \$+ : B+ 1 ;.>A : 7.55 1 35.== m
Therefore, metacentric height )\$ 1 )B : \$B 1 >.DB;5
3<
3 35.== 1 5.=> m. )\$ 4 5, hence, stable.
ow, thin- about how much longer the pine section of the buoy would ha!e to be in order for it to
become unstableF ,f the buoy is stable when )\$ 4 5 and unstable when )\$ 6 5, we can say that the
limit between being stable or unstable is when )\$ 1 5. ,n this case )B 1 \$B. ,f you do the problem
again, setting the length of the pine section as L &instead of =.DDm', and equating )B 1 \$B, you can
sol!e for L &by trial and error' to gi!e the maBimum length before instability sets in. Try it and see9
x x'
x x'
6
D
I

xx

=
Le!"
D # \$%6&'
# Spe(% )ei*ht +,
,-e.h )!te-
\$%&5'
%//'
"

O
0i1e
m ;5 B D . >
d ;A
@
d
=
@
A=
@
.
,
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7
7
=
S

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