Last week we began our discussion on fluid dynamics. We saw how it’s used to determine flow and velocity of water within a pipe. This week we’ll continue our discussion, exploring in some detail the Bernoulli Principle and what it has to say on the subject. Daniel Bernoulli was a Dutch born mathematician who studied fluid dynamics during the 18 One of the conclusions that can be drawn from the Bernoulli Principle is that for fluid flowing steadily, say water within a pipe, or even air flowing over a pitcher’s curve ball in flight, the total energy of the flow remains constant. By “total energy,” I mean the sum of three types of energy: pressure energy, kinetic energy, and potential energy. Total energy will remain constant all along the flow, although its three parts can change. The “pressure energy” part of the total energy is due to the pressure of the fluid flow. For example, pressure energy can be added by a pump to make water flow through a pipe more readily. The “kinetic energy” part of total energy is due to the speed of the fluid flow. And as its name implies, kinetic energy is the energy of movement. The “potential energy” part of the total energy is related to a change in elevation from one end of the fluid flow to the other, like you’d have on a pipe running downhill. It can be said that water at the top of the hill has high potential energy because gravity wants to make it flow down to the bottom of the hill. So how does this Principle help us today? Well, Bernoulli’s Principle is the very foundation upon which fluid dynamics is built, and it’s consistently used to solve complex problems involving fluid flow. To illustrate Bernoulli’s Principle, let’s take a look at Figure l. Here water is flowing through a level pipe with three sections:
According to Bernoulli, the total energy of the flowing water is the same from one end of the pipe to the other, and the total energy is equal in each of the three sections of pipe. As the water flows through the pipe from Section 1 to the narrower Section 2, it speeds up as it squeezes through, so its kinetic energy increases. Since the total energy must remain the same and the pipe is level, (this is significant because it means that potential energy is zero), the kinetic energy increases at the expense of pressure energy. This results in a pressure drop in Section 2. Not following? Well, it’s like making change for a hundred dollar bill. Let’s say pressure energy is represented by $20 bills and kinetic energy is represented by $10 bills. Let’s also say that you have $100 worth of these bills in your wallet. The $100 represents the total energy. Now, pretend that you are water flowing into Section 1 of the pipe. While in Section 1, you look in your wallet and you find that you have four $20 bills and two $10 bills, which add up to $100. Okay. Now, when you move into Section 2, you check your wallet again. You discover that your wallet now has three $20 bills and four $10 bills. So you now have fewer $20 bills, more $10 bills, but you still have a total of $100. Fewer $20 bills means lower pressure, and more $10 bills means higher speed. Okay, getting back to the water, what do you think is going to happen when it flows from narrow Section 2 into wide Section 3? Well, the flow will slow down as it fills the extra space present in Section 3. Since the Bernoulli Principle tells us that the total energy of the flow must remain the same, the pressure energy must increase at the expense of the kinetic energy. This in turn causes the pressure within the pipe to go up and the flow’s speed to go down. Thanks to Bernoulli, if we can calculate the total energy in one section of the pipe, then we can calculate the speed of the water flow in another section if the pressure within that section is known. Again, this is possible because we know that the total energy must remain constant all along the flow. Next week we’ll see how the Bernoulli Principle applies to the other type of fluid, air. _________________________________________________________________ |

Tags: Bernoulli's Principle, engineering expert witness, flow energy, fluid dynamics, fluid flow, fluid mechanics, forensic engineering, mechanical engineer

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