Go back to the main index page

1. Fluid Dynamics

**Objectives**

- Introduce concepts necessary to analyse fluids in motion
- Identify differences between Steady/unsteady uniform/non-uniform compressible/incompressible flow
- Demonstrate streamlines and stream tubes
- Introduce the Continuity principle through conservation of mass and control volumes
- Derive the Bernoulli (energy) equation
- Demonstrate practical uses of the Bernoulli and continuity equation in the analysis of flow
- Introduce the momentum equation for a fluid
- Demonstrate how the momentum equation and principle of conservation of momentum is used to predict forces induced by flowing fluids

This section discusses the analysis of fluid in motion - fluid dynamics. The motion of fluids can be predicted in the same way as the motion of solids are predicted using the fundamental laws of physics together with the physical properties of the fluid.

It is not difficult to envisage a very complex fluid flow. Spray behind a car; waves on beaches; hurricanes and tornadoes or any other atmospheric phenomenon are all example of highly complex fluid flows which can be analysed with varying degrees of success (in some cases hardly at all!). There are many common situations which are easily analysed.

It is possible - and useful - to classify the type of flow which is being examined into small number of groups.

If we look at a fluid flowing under normal circumstances - a river for example - the conditions at one point will vary from those at another point (e.g. different velocity) we have non-uniform flow. If the conditions at one point vary as time passes then we have unsteady flow.

Under some circumstances the flow will not be as changeable as this. He following terms describe the states which are used to classify fluid flow:

*uniform flow:*If the flow velocity is the same magnitude and direction at every point in the fluid it is said to be*uniform*.*non-uniform:*If at a given instant, the velocity is**not**the same at every point the flow is*non-uniform*. (In practice, by this definition, every fluid that flows near a solid boundary will be non-uniform - as the fluid at the boundary must take the speed of the boundary, usually zero. However if the size and shape of the of the cross-section of the stream of fluid is constant the flow is considered*uniform*.)*steady:*A steady flow is one in which the conditions (velocity, pressure and cross-section) may differ from point to point but DO NOT change with time.*unsteady:*If at any point in the fluid, the conditions change with time, the flow is described as*unsteady*. (In practise there is always slight variations in velocity and pressure, but if the average values are constant, the flow is considered*steady*.

Combining the above we can classify any flow in to one of four type:

*Steady uniform flow*. Conditions do not change with position in the stream or with time. An example is the flow of water in a pipe of constant diameter at constant velocity.*Steady non-uniform flow.*Conditions change from point to point in the stream but do not change with time. An example is flow in a tapering pipe with constant velocity at the inlet - velocity will change as you move along the length of the pipe toward the exit.*Unsteady uniform flow*. At a given instant in time the conditions at every point are the same, but will change with time. An example is a pipe of constant diameter connected to a pump pumping at a constant rate which is then switched off.*Unsteady non-uniform flow.*Every condition of the flow may change from point to point and with time at every point. For example waves in a channel.

If you imaging the flow in each of the above classes you may imagine
that one class is more complex than another. And this is the case
- *steady uniform flow* is by far the most simple of the
four. You will then be pleased to hear that this course is restricted
to only this class of flow. We will not be encountering any non-uniform
or unsteady effects in any of the examples (except for one or
two quasi-time dependent problems which can be treated at steady).

3. Compressible or Incompressible

All fluids are compressible - even water - their density will change as pressure changes. Under steady conditions, and provided that the changes in pressure are small, it is usually possible to simplify analysis of the flow by assuming it is incompressible and has constant density. As you will appreciate, liquids are quite difficult to compress - so under most steady conditions they are treated as incompressible. In some unsteady conditions very high pressure differences can occur and it is necessary to take these into account - even for liquids. Gasses, on the contrary, are very easily compressed, it is essential in most cases to treat these as compressible, taking changes in pressure into account.

Although in general all fluids flow three-dimensionally, with pressures and velocities and other flow properties varying in all directions, in many cases the greatest changes only occur in two directions or even only in one. In these cases changes in the other direction can be effectively ignored making analysis much more simple.

Flow is *one dimensional* if the flow parameters (such as
velocity, pressure, depth etc.) at a given instant in time only
vary in the direction of flow and not across the cross-section.
The flow may be unsteady, in this case the parameter vary in time
but still not across the cross-section. An example of one-dimensional
flow is the flow in a pipe. Note that since flow must be zero
at the pipe wall - yet non-zero in the centre - there is a difference
of parameters across the cross-section. Should this be treated
as two-dimensional flow? Possibly - but it is only necessary if
very high accuracy is required. A correction factor is then usually
applied.

Flow is *two-dimensional* if it can be assumed that the flow
parameters vary in the direction of flow and in one direction
at right angles to this direction. Streamlines in two-dimensional
flow are curved lines on a plane and are the same on all parallel
planes. An example is flow over a weir foe which typical streamlines
can be seen in the figure below. Over the majority of the length
of the weir the flow is the same - only at the two ends does it
change slightly. Here correction factors may be applied.

In this course we will **only** be considering steady, incompressible
one and two-dimensional flow.

5. Streamlines and streamtubes

In analysing fluid flow it is useful to visualise the flow pattern.
This can be done by drawing lines joining points of equal velocity
- velocity contours. These lines are know as *streamlines*.
Here is a simple example of the streamlines around a cross-section
of an aircraft wing shaped body:

When fluid is flowing past a solid boundary, e.g. the surface
of an aerofoil or the wall of a pipe, fluid obviously does not
flow into or out of the surface. So very close to a boundary wall
the flow direction must be parallel to the boundary*.*

*Close to a solid boundary streamlines are parallel to that boundary*

At all points the direction of the streamline is the direction of the fluid velocity: this is how they are defined. Close to the wall the velocity is parallel to the wall so the streamline is also parallel to the wall.

It is also important to recognise that the position of streamlines can change with time - this is the case in unsteady flow. In steady flow, the position of streamlines does not change.

**Some things to know about streamlines**

- Because the fluid is moving in the same direction as the streamlines, fluid can not cross a streamline.

- Streamlines can not cross each other. If they were to cross this would indicate two different velocities at the same point. This is not physically possible.

- The above point implies that any particles of fluid starting on one streamline will stay on that same streamline throughout the fluid.

A useful technique in fluid flow analysis is to consider only
a part of the total fluid in isolation from the rest. This can
be done by imagining a tubular surface formed by streamlines along
which the fluid flows. This tubular surface is known as a *streamtube*.

And in a two-dimensional flow we have a streamtube which is flat (in the plane of the paper):

Go back to the main index page