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Determination Of Absolute Viscosity Using Ostwald Viscometer

By Wenddie Aquien from The Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and the New Nature of
Business Practices. Eds. Kirk St. Amant and Pavel Zemlansky. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing,

Abstract: The experiment Determination of absolute viscosity using Ostwald Viscometer

was conducted to determine the absolute viscosity of organic liquids, the relationship of
viscosity to temperature of sucrose solution and the unknown concentration of sucrose
solution using Ostwald viscometer. A definite volume of liquid is placed in the viscometer,
and the level of the liquid is drawn above the top mark of the bulb by suction. The liquid is
allowed to flow out freely, and the time, t, required for the level to drop from the upper mark
to the lower mark is measured. Westphal balance is also used in this experiment in measuring
the density of the liquid. The experiment concluded that the viscosity of a simple liquid
decreases with the increasing temperature and vice versa. As temperature increases, the
average speed of the molecules in a liquid increases and the amount of time they spend in
contact with their nearest neighbors decreases. Thus, as temperature increases, the average
intermolecular forces decrease.
Keywords: Viscosity, Ostwald Viscometer, Westphal Balance

The internal friction in fluids, or viscosity, is caused by the cohesion forces between

molecules. Molecules need energy to escape from each others close interactions. Viscosity is
therefore a thermodynamic quantity, dependent on temperature and pressure. Furthermore,
viscosity is a measure of the resistance of a fluid to being deformed by either shear stress or
extensional stress. It is commonly perceived as thickness, or resistance to flow. Viscosity
describes a fluids internal resistance to flow and may be thought of as a measure of fluid
friction. There are actually two quantities that are called viscosity. The quantity defined
above is sometimes called dynamic viscosity, absolute viscosity, or simple viscosity to
distinguish it from the other quantity, but is usually just called viscosity. The other quantity
called kinematic viscosity (represented by the symbol nu) is the ratio of the viscosity of a
fluid to its density (Mott, R. L. 2006)

Viscosity has a unit of poise in cgs which is named after the French physician Jean
Louis Marie Poiseuille (1799 1869). Poise is equivalent to dyne-second per square
centimeter. It is the viscosity of a fluid in which a tangential force of 1 dyne per square
centimeter maintains a difference in velocity of 1 centimeter per second between two parallel
planes 1 centimeter apart.

Having known the viscosity of a liquid is important. Thus, viscosity plays a vital role
to our daily lives. In the medical field for example, doctors always measures how viscose the
blood of his patient is. It is because when a patients blood is too thick then it can cause
clotting and lead to a heart attack or stroke, or if its too thin then he can readily bleed from a
small cut for hours. On the other

hand, in the Chemical Engineering field, viscosity

measurement also plays a big part in the industry.

For example, when an engineer designs for the distribution system of water from a
water plant for a town, given the average demand of water for the town for any given time,
knowing the viscosity of water, engineers will be able to know the flow of the water, the
pressure of the pipes underground, the size of pipes to be used, and more to follows.

In the experiment, the viscosity of two liquids can be compared by making use of an
Ostwald. The liquids are allowed to flow through the capillary while timed to determine
experimental viscosity of each of the liquids being test.
In doing the experiment, it is important that the students know beforehand the basic
principle that the density is the main factor that brings about the differences in the viscosity
of the different liquids. Thus, density is directly proportional to the viscosity, therefore, the
smaller the density of a liquid, the smaller the smaller the viscosity is, or vice versa. Also,
viscosity varies with temperature. In general, the viscosity of a simple liquid decreases with
increasing temperature (and vice versa). As temperature increases, the average speed of the
molecules in a liquid increases and the amount of time they spend in contact with their
nearest neighbors decreases. Thus, as temperature increases, the average intermolecular
forces decrease. The exact manner in which the two quantities vary is nonlinear and changes
suddenly when the liquid changes phase. Viscosity is normally independent of pressure, this
do not varies the value of viscosity. Since liquids are normally incompressible, an increase in
pressure doesnt really bring the molecules significantly closer together.
Lastly, different fluids possess different amounts of viscosity: syrup is more viscous
than water; grease is more viscous than the engine oil; liquids in general are much more
viscous than gases. The viscosity of different fluids can be expressed quantitatively by the
coefficient of viscosity, (the Greek lowercase letter eta), which could be defined and
calculated using the data that gathered in the following experiment

Chapter 2
The experiment was performed using the Ostwald viscometer . A clean Ostwald
viscometer was used in order to attain the acquired value for the experiment.


pressure was measured using the barometer and was essential to the data

acquired for the entirety of experiment. Thermometer is used to measure the temperature of
the liquid. A Westphal balance was used to measure the density of the water, benzene,
chloroform, methanol and the unknown liquid. Stopwatch was used in measuring the time
that the liquid pass through the reading mark in the viscometer. Time, pressure, density was
found utilizing the Pouiselles equation.

Before starting the experiment, the reporters followed the SOP and guidelines for the
laboratory (wearing their lab gowns, et al).

to start the experiment, a clean Ostwald

viscometer was washed with hydrochloric acid followed by distilled water in order to wash
all the remains of the other liquid that stayed in the viscometer. After the washing comes the
drying. The viscometer is clamped vertical using the clamp and the iron stand in order to read
the value or the time elapsed. 5ml of water was put into the viscometer in arm C using the
pipette until it is above the mark at the top of the bulb. Put the rubber in the other arm of the
viscometer in order to draw upward the water. Draw the water up the other arm of the tube
until it is above mark A. using the stopwatch, time the water as the surface falls between
mark A and B. Repeat twice more and take the average reading of the three as your mean
After the three trials for water, empty the viscometer on the sink with plenty of water.
Repeat the procedure with benzene, chloroform followed by methanol then the
unknown liquid. After the three trials for chloroform,

trials of the same number for

benzene ,methanol and unknown liquid were made. Results that followed were recorded.
Sample computations were made and passed after the 2-day of the designated Experiment 3.

Chapter 3

Throughout the course of the experiment, three trials were performed for each of the
compounds (water, benzene, chloroform, methanol and an unknown reagent) for the
determination of absolute viscosity using the Ostwald viscometer. The Ostwald viscometer
was used to measure the viscosity of each of the fluids in the experiment. The drag caused
by the relative motion of the fluid and a surface is a measure of the viscosity. The flow
conditions must have a sufficiently small value of Reynolds number for there to be a laminar
flow. Density is also part of the equation of determining the viscosity of the fluids, therefore
the performers of the experiment did three trials for each of the reagents of the experiment

using the Westphal balance. The temperature at the given density was also measured
because it is one of the factors in the density of the reagents. For the experiment's process
variable, viscosity of a fluid is a measure of its resistance to gradual deformation by shear
stress or tensile stress. For liquids, it corresponds to the informal notion of "thickness".
The results of all the trials for each of the compounds were as follows: 9.4343 x 10^-4
with a percent error of 6.3598 x 10^ -3 percent error for water; 99.51 percent error for
benzene; 53.1853 percent error for chloroform ; 72.07 percent error for methanol ; 80.54
percent error for the unknown liquid.
With these data acquired by the reporters earlier in the experiment,
viscositycoefficient was solved simultaneously using the equation: = D x ( nr / D x t) ; A

simplified equation where in D= density, nr= viscosity coefficient, t= time in seconds
It is believed that much of this error is caused by the misalignment of the Ostwald
viscometer. One degree of misalignment introduces 1 % error. Another source of error in the
viscometer is the requirement to use the exact volume of liquid for the reference liquid and
the test liquid. This requirement becomes further problematic if the measurements are done at
different temperatures. The accurate knowledge of density is necessary to adjst the colume at
different test temperatures. More error might have been caused by the uprightness of the
ironstand used in the experiment.

Chapter 4
The determination of the rate of flow through a rigid capillary is the basis for an
important method for the measurement of viscosity. In this method, the time of outflow of a
known volume of liquid through a capillary under the influence of gravity is determined. In
this experiment, the reporters concluded that the viscosity of many liquids decreases as the
temperature increases and vice versa. The viscosity of a liquid also depends upon the size,
slope, and chemical nature of the molecules which compose it. Chemical forces between
neighboring molecules also influence viscosity. And the viscosity of a liquid increases, when
it is subjected to increased pressure. As the pressure is increased, the molecules are crowded

more closely and they have less free space left in which they can move. As the temperature is
raised, the liquid expands and the available free spaced is increased. In each case, the change
of viscosity parallels the free space in which the molecules can pass each other. All of the
viscometer parameters can be determined through careful measurement of the viscometer
dimension; however, the viscometer constant is generally determined by calibration using a
fluid of known density and viscosity.
It is well to emphasize those two absolute necessities for satisfactory viscosity
measurements are cleanliness of the viscometer and an accurate temperature control. Ostwald
viscometer should be cleansed thoroughly before and after every trial of the experiment.
Contamination may occur if the apparatus was not cleansed and this may greatly affect the
values of the viscosity of the liquid sample. The viscometer must wash several times by
distilled water and be sure that it is totally dried before doing another trial.
The viscometer should vertically clamp to the iron stand. Tilted viscometer may affect
the time spent of the liquid as well as the reading at which it passes the calibration marks.
The reporter who reads the liquid passes the calibration marks should be attentive in
recording the time to avoid errors.

Tables and Figures

TIME (s)


Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3


17.99 s

18.23 s

18.16 s

18.14 s


27.4 s

27.91 s

27.84 s

27.73 s


3.33 s

3.15 s

3.40 s

3.293 s


3.71 s
4.3 s

3.7 s
4.37 s

3.5 s
3.89 s

3.6367 s




Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

1 @ 24 deg. 0.9999 @ 23.5

deg. Celsius
0.8765 @ 24 0.8744 @ 24
deg. Celsius
deg. Celsius
1.4695 @ 23 1.4703 @ 25
deg. Celsius
deg. Celsius
0.7933 @ 24 0.7933 @ 24
deg. Celsius
deg. Celsius
0.6586 @ 24 0.6595 @ 24
deg. Celsius
deg. Celsius

0.96 @ 23 deg.
0.]8749 @ 23
deg. Celsius
1.4689 @ 23
deg. Celsius
0.7947 @ 24
deg. Celsius
0.6598 @ 24
deg. Celsius

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3


9.3293 x 10^ -4

9.4337 x 10^-4

9.5399 x 10^-4

9.4343 x 10^-4


1.2454 x 10^ -3

1.2673 x 10^-3

1.3329 x 10^-3

1.2819 x 10^-3


2.5376 x 10^ -4

2.3969 x 10^-4

2.7329 x 10^-4

2.5558 x 10^-4


1.5263 x 10^-4

1.5191 x 10^-4

1.5228 x 10^-4

1.5225 x 10^-4


1.4686 x 10^-4

1.4915 x 10^-4

1.4045 x 10^-4

1.4549 x 10^-4


0.9866 @ 23.5
deg. Celsius
0.8763 @ 23.5
deg. Celsius
1.496 @ 23.67
deg. Celsius
deg. Celsius
0.6593 @ 24
deg. Celsius

Table 3.1 Data Sheet for Water, Benzene, Chloroform, Methanol and Unknown Liquid
Pictures of Apparatus used:

a) Ostwald viscometer
b) Westphal balance
Used to measure distance - Used to measure the
the liquid travels
density of a liquid

c) Thermometer
-Used to measure the

d) Reagent bottle
-where liquids stored

e) rubber tubing
-Used as a passage for liquid or
gas in experiments

g) Iron stand
-It supports the mixture

f) pipette pump
-Used to pump air

h) clamp
-Used in securing the viscometer

1) Water (Trial 1) :
t= exp (C1 + C2/T + C3 lnT + C4 T^ C5)
C1= -52.843
C2= 3703.6
C3= 5.866
C4= -5.879 x 10^-29
t(true value) = exp [(-52.843 + (3703.6/24+273.15) + 5.866 ln (24 + 273.15 ) + 5.879 x
10^-29 x (23.5 + 273.15)^10 ]
t (true value) = 9. 4377 x 10 ^-4 Pa-s

1= exp [-52.843 + (3703.6/24 + 273.15) + 5.866 ln (24 + 273.15 ) + 5.879 x 10^-29 x (24
+ 273.15)^10 ]
1= 9.3293 x 10^-4 Pa-s
Mean 1= (9.3293 x 10^ -4 + 9.4337 x 10^-4 + 9.5399 x 10^ -4)/ 3 = 9.4343 x 10^-4 Pa-s

2) Benzene (Trial 1)
C1= 7.517
C2= 2094.68
C3= -2.794
C4= 0
C5= 0
t (true value) = exp [7.517 + 2094.68/23.5+273.15 + -2.794 ln (23.5 + 273.15) + 0 ( 23.5 +
273.15)^0 ]
t (true value) = 0.2639 Pa x s (True Value)
= D x ( nr / Dr x t) =

9.3293 x 104 Pas
27.4 s [
= 1.2454 x10^ -3 Pa x S
x 17.99 s

mean 2= (1.2454 x 10^-3 + 1.2673 x 10^-3 + 1.3329 x 10^-3 ) / 3 = 1.2819 x10^-3 Pa x S

3) Chloroform (Trial 1)
C1= -14.109
C2= 1049.2
C3= 0.5377
C4= 0
C5= 0
t (true value) = exp [-14.109 + (1049.2/ 23.67+ 273.15) + 0.5377 ln (23.67 +273.15) + 0 ]
t (true value) = 5.4594 x 10^-4

= D x ( nr / Dr x t) =


9.3293 x 104 Pas
3.33 s[
= 2.5376 x10^ -4 Pa-s
x 17.99 s

mean = (2.5376 x 10^-4 + 2.3969 x10^-4 + 2.7329 x 10^-4) /3= 2.5558 x10^-4 Pa-s

4) Methanol (Trial 1)
C1 = -25.317
C2= 1789.2
C3 = 2.069
C4= 0
C5= 0
t (true value) = exp [-25.317 + (1789.2/ 24+ 273.15) + 2.069 ln (24+273.15) + 0 ]
Nt= 5.4516 x 10 ^-4 Pa-S (true value)
= D x ( nr / Dr x t) =


9.3293 x 104 Pas
3.71 s[
= 1.5263 x10^ -4 Pa-s
x 17.99 s

mean = (1.5263 x 10^-4 + 1.5191 x10^-4 + 1.5220 x 10^-4) /3 = 1.5225 x10^-4 Pa-s
5) Unknown (Trial 1)
= D x ( nr / Dr x t) =


9.3293 x 104 Pas
4.3 s [
= 1.4686 x10^ -4 Pa-s
x 17.99 s

C1= -36.5614
C2= 3542.2
C3= 3.3364
C4= -8.0487 x10^-37
C5= 12.84
t (true value for unknown) = exp [-36.561 + (3542.2/(24+273.15)) +3.3364 ln (24+273.15)
+ -8.0487 x10^-37 (24+ 273.15)^12.84 ]
t (true value for unknown) = 7.5450 x 10^-3 Pa-s
1) H20

% error= [(9.4339 x 10^ -4 - 9.343 x10^-4) / 9.4337 x 10^-4] x 100 = 6.3602 x 10^-10 %
2) Benzene
% error= [(0.2639 - 1.2819 x 10^-3) / 0.2639] x 100 = 99.5142 %
3) Chloroform
% error = [(5.4594 x 10^ -4 - 2.5558 x10^-4) / 5.4594 x 10^-4] x 100 = 53.1853 %
4) Methanol
% error = [(5.4516 x 10^ -4 - 1.5225 x10^-4) / 5.4516 x 10^-4] x 100 = 72.0724 %
5) Unknown
% error= [(7.5450 x 10^-3 - 1.4686 x10^ -4 Pa-s) / 7.5450 x 10^-3 ] x 100 = 80.5354 %

Additional Problems

In an experiment with an Ostwald viscometer, the times of flow of water and ethanol
are 80s and 175s at 20C. The density of water is 0.998g/cm and that of ethanol

0.790 g/cm. The viscosity of water at 20C is 0.01008 poise. Calculate the viscosity
of ethahol.

twater = 80s
tethanol = 175s
water = 0.998

ethanol = 0.790


(water) = 0.01008 poise


cm. s ) = 0.01008
(water) = 0.01008 poise (
1 poise

cm. s

(ethanol) = ( ethanol)(tethanol)( rtr )

(ethanol) = (0.790

0.01008 g
cm. s
cm )(175s)( 0.998 g
(80 s)

(ethanol) = 0.0175

cm. s


An experiment was performed that measured the flow of four different liquids as
temperature was increased. According to the graph, which of the liquids had the
greatest viscosity at a temperature of 30 C?






The liquid that has the greatest viscosity at temperature 30 C is Liquid D.

The dimensional formula of coefficient of viscosity is ______?


= ()(t)( r tr )

How does the viscosity of a liquid change with temperature?

Viscosity of a liquid change with temperature in a way that viscosity decreases
as is temperature increases.

In an experiment with an Ostwald Viscometer, the viscosity of the toluene and water
at 30 C is 0.579 and 0.8007 poise. The times of flow of water and toluene are 41s
and 34.5s. The density of water is 1.002 g/cm3. Calculate the density of toluene.
twater = 41s
ttoluene = 34.5s
water = 1.002


(water) = 0.8007 poise

(toluene) = 0.579 poise

s ) = 0.8007
water = 0.8007 poise (
1 poise

cm. s

cm. s ) = 0.579
toluene = 0.579 poise (
1 poise

cm. s

toluene = (toluene)(ttoluene)( r tr )


cm. s

= (toluene)(34.5s)(

toluene = 0.8611


cm . s

(41 s)

c m3


Atkins, Peter W. and de Paula, Julia (2010). Physical Chemistry, 9th edition, Oxford
University Press, New York.
Atkins, Peter W. and de Paula, Julia (2011). Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences, 2nd
edition, W.H. Freeman & Company, New York.