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# PRESSURE VARIATION IN FLOWING FLUIDS

Basic Causes of Pressure Variation in a Flowing Fluid: In static fluid gravity causes pressure to
vary with elevation. In fluid flow in addition to the weight effect acceleration and viscous resistance
are the basic causes of pressure variation.
To accelerate a mass of fluid in a given
direction, there must be a net force in the
direction of acceleration. Therefore, the
pressure must decrease in the direction
of acceleration as shown in figure.
For flow in a pipe

A1, p1

F1 = p1 A1

p2, A2

## Variation of pressure in a pipe

F2 = p2 A2
P1 > P2

Since A1= A2, net pressure force on the fluid acts to the right, i.e, F1 > F2

In addition to acceleration, pressure variation is needed to overcome the viscous resistance, which acts
in opposition to the motion of the fluid.
Pressure Variation due to Weight and
Acceleration: Element shown in figure
is being accelerated in the l direction.
Applying Newtons second law in the l
direction and using the system approach,
Fl Ma l

pA p p A W sin lAa l
pA lA sin lAa l

## Pressure and weight forces acting on an accelerating fluid element.

(a) Fluid element. (b)Trigonometric relation

W l A

dividing by lA

p
sin a l
l

(1)

## Pressure is a function of both position and time.

Taking the limit of

p
at a give time as l zero yields the partial derivative:
l

limit p
l 0 l

sin

p
l

limit z z

l 0 l
l

p
z

l
l

p z a l
l

(2)

## This is a Eulers equation for a fluid.

When al = 0

p + z = C (for hydrostatic).

In other words, along a path of zero acceleration the pressure distribution must be hydrostatic. This
assumes that the gravity and pressure forces are the only forces acting. That is, it is a non-viscous flow.
Examples of Pressure variation Resulting from Acceleration
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Uniform Acceleration of a Tank of Liquid: When open tank of liquid is accelerated to the right at a
rate of ax, a net force must act on the liquid in the same direction; this is accomplished when the liquid
redistributes itself in the tank as shown in figure by A'B'CD. Under this condition the hydrostatic force
at the left end is greater than the hydrostatic force at the right, which is consistent with the requirement
of
F = Ma.
Along the liquid surface A'B' pressure is constant, p = patm. Consequently

p
0
l

The acceleration along A'B' is given by al = ax cos . Hence, Eq. (2) reduces to
d
z a x cos where the total derivative is used because the variables do not change with time.
dl

= constant = g.
Therefore,

a cos
dz
x
dl
g

but

dz
sin
dl

Thus

sin

a x cos
g

or

tan

ax
g

Along a horizontal plane in the liquid, such as at the bottom of the tank, z is constant, then
p
a x
x

which shows that the pressure must decrease in the direction of the acceleration.

The change in pressure is consistent with the change in depth of liquid because hydrostatic pressure
variation prevails in the vertical direction, since there is no component of acceleration in that direction.
Thus as the depth decreases in the direction of acceleration, the pressure along the bottom of the tank
must also decrease.
Rotation of Tank of Liquid: Consider a cylindrical tank of liquid rotating at a constant rate , as
shown in figure. Surface A'A' appears after a period of time when a steady state has been
established.
Applying Eq. (2) in a radial direction,

2
d
p z a r V
dr
r

where the partial derivative has been dropped since the flow
is steady and a function only of the radius r. Acceleration in
the radial direction is negative (toward the centre of rotation).
Since,

V = r

## Integrating with respect to r gives

d
p z r 2
dr
p z

r 2 2
constant
2

Bernoulli Equation

If the flow is steady, incompressible, non-viscous, and also irrotational, Bernoulli equation can be
derived from the Eulers equation
p z

p
V2
z
Constant

2g

V2
Constant (In pressure units)
2

In most applications the Bernoulli equation is written between two points, 1 and 2, in the flow field as:
V 2 p2
V2
V 12
p1
V22

(In
pressure
units)
p1 z1
p 2 z 2
1
2

2g
2g
2
2
Note that the V in the Bernoulli equation is the speed of the fluid and not a velocity component.
Bernoulli equation is a scalar equation. It can be used to predict the pressure distribution within the
fluid or the pressure distribution on a body if the flow pattern about the body is known.
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## Application of the Bernoulli Equation

Stagnation Tube: Writing Bernoulli equation
between points 1 and 2 for the stagnation tube
shown in figure (as z1 = z2)
V 12
V2
p1
p2 2
2
2
Velocity at point 2 is zero ( a stagnation point).
V12

Thus,

2
p 2 p1

## By the equations of hydrostatics (there is no

acceleration normal to the streamlines where the
streamlines are straight and parallel),
p1 = d and p2 = (l + d).
2
l d d

V1 2 gl .

V12

Therefore,

which reduces to
A very simple device such as curved tube can be used to measure the velocity of flow.
Pitot Tube: The Pitot tube is based on the same principle as the stagnation tube, but it is much more
versatile than the stagnation tube. The Pitot tube has a pressure tap at the upstream end of the tube for
sensing the stagnation pressure . There are also ports located several tube diameters downstream of the
front end of the tube for sensing the static pressure in the fluid where the velocity is essentially the
same as the approach velocity.
Applying Bernoulli equation between points 1
and 2, shown in figure, and solving for V2 as V1 =
0.
p
p

V 2 2 g 1 z1 2 z 2

Using V2 = V, the velocity of the stream and
p
zh,

the

piezometric

V 2 g h1 h2
Flow velocity can be measured easily with the Pitot tube by connecting a pressure gage or manometer between taps that
lead to points 1 and 2. A major advantage of the Pitot tube is that it can be used to measure velocity in a pressurized pipe; a
simple stagnation tube is not convenient to use in such a situation. In gas-flow measurement, where a single differential
p
pressure gage is connected across the taps V 2
, where p is the pressure difference across the taps.

## Pressure Variation near Curved Boundaries

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Fig. (a). Flow net for transition (half-section).

## If flow passages are converging, such as is shown

in figure (a), then irrotational flow will be
approximated for low-viscosity fluids such as
water or air. Hence the Bernoulli equation can be
used to obtain the pressure variation between
points in the flow field, including points adjacent
to the boundaries. Writing Bernoulli equation
between the reference point and any other point,
V 02
p
V 2 p0
z

z0

2g
2g

where p0, V0, and z0, are pressure, velocity, and elevation respectively, at the reference point; and p,
V, and z, are pressure, velocity, and elevation at any other given point. By rearrangement,
2
2
V 2 V 2
p
p0
V V
h h0
z
z 0
or
where h0 is the piezometric head at the
2g
2g

reference point, and h is the piezometric head at a given point. For gases in which hydrostatic effects
2
2

p p0 V V
p p 0 V 2 V 2

are negligible
or
2

2g

By nondimensionalizing
Because V

V
h h0

1 -
2
V0 / 2 g
V0

or

V
p p0

1 -
2
V0 / 2
V0

A
V
1
0 ), then the equations in terms of the flow passage are
(that is,
V0
A
A

h h0

p p0
A
A
1- 0
1 - 0
or
2
2
V0 / 2 g
V0 / 2
A
A
For two-dimensional flow, the streamline spacing is directly proportional to the flow area, that is
2
2
p p0
h h0
A0 n 0
n0
n0

1-
1-
. Then, in terms of the streamline spacing

or

A
n
V02 / 2 g
V02 / 2
n
n
where n is the distance between two adjacent streamlines
measured along the line (probably curved) perpendicular
to both streamlines as shown in figure (a). Since both
sides of above equations are dimensionless, application
of the equations is not a function of the density of the
fluid or the absolute size of the passage that controls the
flow. Consequently, test can be made on a small-scale
structure (a model), and the results may be applied to a
large-scale structure. This is the principle of model
testing. The left side of either of equations is often called
the pressure coefficient Cp. That is,
hh
p p0
Cp 2 0
Cp
or
V0 / 2 g
V02 / 2
It is the change in peizometric head (or pressure)
between two points in the flow field relative to the velocity head (kinetic pressure) of the reference
velocity. For the conduit of figure (a), the relative pressure (pressure coefficient) along the centreline
and along the boundary at various points is plotted in the figure (b). Because there are greater
variations of velocity near the boundary, the pressure variations are also greater along the boundary
than they are along the centreline.

## Pressure Distribution Around a Circular Cylinder

Ideal Fluid

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Fig (a) Irrotational flow past a cylinder

## If a fluid is nonviscous (an ideal fluid) and if the flow of such

a fluid is initially incompressible and irrotational, then the
flow will be irrotational throughout the entire flow field. Fluid
cannot rotate because there is no shear stress (viscosity is
zero) on the surface of the body. Then if the flow is also
steady, the Bernoulli equation will apply. Consider the flow
pattern about a circular cylinder shown in figure (a). Because
the flow pattern is symmetrical with either the vertical or the
horizontal axis through the centre of the cylinder, the pressure
distribution on the surface of the cylinder, obtained by
application of the Bernoulli equation, is also symmetrical. In
figure (b) the relative pressure Cp is plotted outward
(negative) or inward (positive) from the surface of the
cylinder, depending on the sign of the relative pressure and on
a line normal to the surface of the cylinder. V0 and p0 are the
velocity and pressure of the free stream far upstream or
downstream of the body (points A and E). The points at the
front and rear of the cylinder (points B and D) are points of
stagnation (Cp = +1.0) and the minimum pressure (Cp = 3.0)
occurs at the midsection (point C) where the velocity is
highest. A fluid particle first decelerates, which is consistent
Fig. (b)
with the increase in pressure from A to B. Then as it passes
from B to C, it is accelerated to its highest speed by the action
of the pressure gradient; that is, the pressure decreases over the entire path from B to C. Next, as the
particle travels from C to D, its momentum at C is sufficient to allow it to travel to D against the
adverse pressure gradient (pressure increases in the direction of flow here). Finally, the particle
accelerates to the free stream velocity in its passage from D to E.
Separation
In regions where boundaries turn away from the flow so as to
cause the streamlines to diverge, the flow usually separates
from the boundary and a recirculation pattern is generated in the
region. This phenomenon is called separation, a typical case of
which is shown schematically in figure (b). Also shown, in
figure (a), is the pattern for ideal flow past a similar plate.
In the region between the high-velocity flow outside the zone of
separation and the low-velocity zone inside it (figure (b)),
vortices are formed. A vortex is defined as the motion of a
multitude of fluid particles around a common center. These
vortices are often called eddies, which through viscous action
are finally dissipated into heat.
In rivers the larger eddies are often called whirlpools. These vortices or eddies lead to the phenomenon
called turbulence. For the case of flow of water in rivers or wind in the atmosphere, the flow is almost
always turbulent. The eddies that are initially developed are relatively large, but in the process of
turbulent mixing, they break down into smaller and smaller eddies. Viscous resistance in the smallest
eddies eventually dissipates virtually all of the kinetic energy that initially existed in the larger eddies.
This process of vortex generation and decay is typical of all turbulent flows and is one of the most
significant aspects of fluid mechanics. Research in this area will be especially challenging and
rewarding for engineers and scientists for years to come.
The point of separation may be related to the shape and
roughness of a body. Considering the flow of a real (viscous)
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## fluid past a circular cylinder, as shown in figure. Because of the

viscous resistance, a thin layer of fluid has its velocity reduced
from that predicted by irrotational theory. In fact, the fluid
particles directly adjacent to the surface have zero velocity
(this no-slip condition at a boundary is characteristic of all
real fluids). The normal tendency is for the layer of
reduced velocity (called the boundary layer) to grow in thickness in the direction of flow. However,
because the main stream of fluid outside the boundary layer is accelerating in the same direction, the
boundary layer remains quite thin up to approximately the midsection. Downstream of the midsection
deceleration of the fluid next to the boundary is limited (in contrast with irrotational flow) because its
velocity is already small (much smaller than for irrotational flow) because of the viscous resistance.
Therefore, the fluid near the boundary can proceed only a very short distance against the adverse
pressure gradient before stopping completely. Once the motion of the fluid next to the boundary
ceases, this causes the main stream of flow to be diverted away, or to be separated from the
boundary. Thus the process of separation is produced. Downstream of this point of separation, the
fluid outside the surface separation has a high velocity and the fluid inside the surface of separation
has a relatively low velocity. Because of the steep velocity gradient along the surface of separation,
eddies are generated, which through viscous action are finally dissipated into heat.
Since the location of the point of separation on a rounded
body depends on the character of the flow in the boundary
layer, roughness of the surface or turbulence in the
approach flow has an effect on the location of the
separation point. For angular-type bodies, however, the
point of separation occurs at the sharp break in boundary
configuration. For flow past a square rod and a disk and
through a sharp-edged orifice, as shown in figure, flow separation occurs at the boundary
discontinuity. Because separation is closely associated with the viscous resistance of the fluid, the
Reynolds number (Re ) is an indicator of the onset of separation. For example, in flow past a
circular cylinder, separation occurs for a Reynolds number (Re = VD/) greater than 50. For
Reynolds numbers less than 50, the entire flow field is dominated by relatively large viscous resistance
that inhibit the onset of eddy motion in the fluid.
The effect of Separation on Pressure Distribution: When separation occurs, the flow pattern and
pressure distribution is
changed. Pressure that
prevails at the point of
separation also prevails
over the body within the
zone of separation. For
both cylinder and disk, as
shown in figure, the
pressure
on
the
downstream half of the
body is much less than the
pressure on the upstream
half; consequently, a net
force called, drag, is imposed on the body in the downstream direction.

Cavitation
Cavitation occurs in liquid systems when the pressure at any point in the system is reduced to the
vapour pressure of the liquid. Under such conditions, vapour bubbles form (boiling occurs) and then
collapse (condense), thereby producing dynamic effects that can often lead to decreased efficiency
and/or equipment failure. Consider
water flow through the pipe
restriction shown in figure. In
figure
(a),
the
physical
configuration and the plots of
piezometric head along the wall of
the conduit for different flows are
shown. In figure (b), the
dimensionless plot of piezometric
head along the wall is shown.
Here, the reference point is taken
at
the centre of the pipe. For low and
medium rates of flow, there is a
relatively small drop in pressure at
the constriction. Therefore, the
pressure in the water remains well
above the vapour pressure, and
cavitation does not occur. If the
rate of flow is high, however, the
drops below the pipe, thereby
indicating a less-than-atmospheric
pressure for the liquid in the
constriction.
The pressure can drop no lower than the vapour pressure of the
liquid, because at this pressure the liquid boils. Such a condition is
shown in figure (a), where vapour bubbles are forming at the
restriction, growing in size, then collapsing as they move into a
region of higher pressure as they are swept downstream with the
flow. Experimental and theoretical studies reveal that very high
intermittent pressures develop in the vicinity of the bubbles when
they collapse. These pressures may exceed 800 MPa (115,000 psi).
Therefore, if the bubbles collapse close to physical boundaries,
such as pipe walls, pump impellers, ship propellers, valve casings,
or dam-spillway floors, they can cause damage.
Usually this damage occurs in the form of a fatigue failure brought by the action of millions of bubbles
impacting against the surface material over a long period of time, thus producing pitting of the
material in the vicinity of the zone of cavitation. Cavitation in an enclosed pipe or machine can often
be detected by the characteristic sound generated. In large structures, it sounds like large rocks are
being carried through the system and are hitting the sides of the conduit. If the flow is increased even
more than indicated above, the minimum pressure is still restricted to the vapour pressure of the water,
but the zone of vaporization increases, as shown in figure (b). For such a condition the entire vapour
pocket may intermittently grow and collapse, producing serious vibration problems. Cavitation should
be avoided or minimized by the proper design of equipment and structures and by their proper
operation.
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Problem Sheet No. 2
1.

A pipe slopes upwards in the direction of fluid flow at an angle of 30 with the horizontal. What
is the pressure gradient in the flow direction along the pipe in terms of the specific weight of the
liquid if the liquid is decelerating (accelerating opposite to flow direction) at a rate of 0.3 g?
(Ans: 0.20 )

2.

## The closed tank shown in Fig. 1, which is full of liquid, is

accelerated downward at 2/3 g and to the right at one g.
Here L = 2 m, H = 3 m, and the liquid has a specific gravity
of 1.3. Determine PC PA and PB PA.
(Ans: PB PA = 12.75 kPa; PC PA = 38.26 kPa)

3.

Fig. 1

## Fig. 2, is 6 m/s and h = 15 m. Because of the rounded

entrance to the pipe, the flow is assumed to be irrotational.
Under these conditions, what is the pressure at A?
(Ans: 129.15 kPa)
4. Liquid flows with a free surface around a bend. The liquid is
inviscid and incompressible, and flow is steady and
irrotational. The velocity varies with the radius across the
flow as V

Fig. 2

1
m/s, where r is in meters. Find the difference in depth of the liquid from the
r

inside to the outside radius. The inside radius of the bend is 1 m and the outside radius is 3 m.
(Ans: h = 0.045 m)
5. The pressure coefficient distribution on a cylinder in a
cross flow is given by Cp = 1 4 Sin2 where is
the angular displacement from the forward stagnation
point. Assume that two pressure taps are located at
30 as shown in Fig. 3 and connected to a water
manometer. The cylinder is immersed in air with a
density of 1.2 kg/ m3 and a velocity of 50 m/s in the
direction shown on the figure. What will be the deflection on
the manometer, in centimeters?

Fig. 3

## 6. A flow metering device, shown in Fig. 4, consists of a

stagnation probe at station 2 and a static pressure tap at
station 1. The cross-sectional area of the tube at station 2 is
one-half that at section 1. Air with a density of 1.2 kg/m 3
flows through the duct. A water manometer is connected
between the stagnation probe and the pressure tap, and a
deflection of 10 cm is measured. What is the velocity at
station 2?

(Ans:

80.87

Fig. 4

m/s)
7. A pitot tube used to measure air velocity is connected to a differential pressure gage. If the air
temperature is 20 C at standard atmospheric pressure at sea level, and if the differential gage
reads a pressure difference of 3 kPa, what is the air velocity?

(Ans: 70.7

m/s)
8. A spherical probe, as shown in Fig. 5, is used for
finding gas velocity by measuring the pressure
difference between the upstream and downstream
points A and B. The pressure coefficients at point A
and

## PA PB is 4 kPa, and the gas density is 1.5 kg/ m3.

Calculate the gas velocity.

(Ans: 61.7

Fig. 5

m/s)
9. A rugged instrument used frequently for monitoring
gas velocity in smokestacks consists of two open
tubes oriented to the flow direction, as shown in
Fig. 6, and connected to a manometer. The pressure
coefficient is 1.0 at A and -0.3 at B. Assume that
water, at 20 C, is used in the manometer and that a

Fig. 6

0.8 cm deflection is noted The pressure and temperature of the stack gases are 101 kPa and
250 C. The gas constant of the stack gas is 200 J/kg K. Determine the velocity of the stack
gases.

## (Ans: 11.17 m/s)

10. A pitot tube is used to measure the air speed of an airplane. The pitot tube is connected to a
pressure-sensing device calibrated to indicate the correct air speed when the temperature is 17 C

and the pressure is 101 kPa. The airplane flies at an altitude of 3000 m, where the pressure and
temperature are 70 kPa and -6.3 C. The indicated airspeed is 60 m/s. What is the airspeed?
(Ans: 69.3
m/s)
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