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Elements of

Fluid Mechanics
Course Lecture Notes
Designed by
David C. Wilcox
Course Objectives/Details
z Learn to apply Newton’s laws of motion
to fluids
z Get an overview of the field
1. Text…Elements of Fluid Mechanics by David C. Wilcox
2. Chapters covered…1 through 11

z Grading
1. Homework 20%, Midterm 30%, Final 50%
2. If final exam score exceeds overall average, grade is based
entirely on final
Fluid Mechanics Advances-1
The most obvious impact of fluid mechanics
is in aviation

Wright Flyer, 1903 Glamorous Glennis, 1947

Apollo-11, 1969 SpaceShipOne, 2004

Fluid Mechanics Advances-2
Aerodynamic drag force on automobiles is 1/3
that of early 20th century designs

1914 2002

Fluid mechanics impacts design of power-generation facilities,

heating and ventilation systems , computer disks, bridges,
piers, microchip manufacture, artificial hearts, etc.
Dimensions and Units-1
z To describe physical properties in quantitative
terms we must select a system of units
z In modern engineering practice we use either
the Standard International (SI) system or
the U. S. Customary System (USCS)
z Mass, length, time and temperature are
called independent dimensions
– SI: kilogram, meter, second, Kelvin
– USCS: slug, foot, second, oRankine
Dimensions and Units-2
z Dependent dimensions can be expressed in
terms of the independent dimensions, e. g.,
– 1 Newton = (1 kg)(1 m/sec2) = 1 kg•m/sec2
– 1 pound = (1 slug)(1 ft/sec2) = 1 slug•ft/sec2

z To convert from one system of units to another,

form dimensionless ratios from conversion tables…

so that
Simplistic Definition of a Fluid
“Anything that flows”
• Examples are liquids, gases, icebergs, traffic
• All obey fluid-mechanical laws and equations
Rigorous Definition of a Fluid
“A substance that cannot be in static equilibrium
under the action of oblique stresses”

• Normal stress causes a volume change, but no further motion

after reaching a new equilibrium state
• Oblique stress causes the fluid to deform, and it continues to
deform as long as a shear component remains
• By contrast, a solid deforms until it yields – but no motion
Continuum Approximation-1
We treat a fluid as a continuous substance as
opposed to a collection of molecules
• Valid if the number of molecules
in a fluid particle is very large,
n ∆V >> 1 (n = number of
molecules per unit volume)
• A fluid particle is a volume of
fluid whose size, ∆V, is
extremely small compared to
the characteristic volume of the
flow, ∆Vu
• Not valid below a minimum
volume, ∆Vl…very small for
virtually all fluids of practical
Continuum Approximation-2
Consider flow past a sphere of diameter 1 cm
z To compute flow past the sphere, for example, divide
physical space up into many ∆V << sphere volume
z Sea level: a volume the size of a typical dust particle
(1 micron = 10-4 cm) contains 14 million molecules so
that the continuum limit applies
z 200 miles above Earth: a dust-particle sized volume
contains 10-8 molecule, i.e., would need a volume 100
million times larger to find a single molecule so that
the continuum limit does not apply
Density and Temperature
z Density, ρ:
– Definition: m is molecular mass, n is number of molecules
per unit volume (number density)
– Air: ρ = 1.20 kg/m3 (0.00234 slug/ft3)
– Water: ρ = 998 kg/m3 (1.94 slug/ft3)

z Temperature, T:
– Kinetic-theory definition: u' is random molecular
fluctuating velocity, m is molecular mass, k is Boltzmann’s
constant and <Φ> denotes statistical average of Φ
– Standard temperature: Tstandard = 0o C = 32o F
– Absolute scales: Tstandard = 273.16 K = 491.67o R
z A fluid exerts a pressure, p, on its container walls,
whether or not it’s moving
– p is a normal force per unit area
– It is a scalar and thus acts equally in all directions (at a point)
z Pressure comes from collisions
Use a statistical average, <p>, in the continuum limit

Atmospheric pressure, pa, is 1 atm, 14.7 psi,

2116.8 psf, 101 kPa, 760 mmHg , 760 torr
Perfect-Gas Law
z For a “dilute gas,” i.e., a gas in which the average
distance between molecules is large compared to
molecular diameter, p, ρ and T are related by

z T is absolute temperature
z R is the perfect-gas constant
– Air: R = 287 J/(kg•K) = 1716 ft•lb/(slug•oR)
– Helium: R = 2077 J/(kg•K) = 12419 ft•lb/(slug•oR)
Other Thermodynamic Properties
z Internal Energy, e:
– Energy per unit mass (J/kg)
– Generally, e = e(υ,T) where υ = 1/ρ is specific
volume and T is temperature
– For a thermally-perfect gas, e = e(T)
z Enthalpy, h:
– Defined by h = e + p/ρ
– Generally, h = h(p,T) where p is pressure and T is
– For a thermally-perfect gas, h = h(T)
Specific-Heat Coefficients
z Defined by

z Calorically-Perfect Gas
– Constant cυ and cp
– e = cυT and h = cpT
z Specific-Heat Ratio, γ = 1.4 for air, where
Compressibility of a fluid is defined by

• Gases: For an isothermal (constant T ) process, the perfect-gas

law tells us that ρ = p/(RT), wherefore

• Liquids: We defer to measurements for liquids…

– Air: τisothermal = 1.00•10-5 m2/N = 4.79•10-4 ft2/lb
– Water: τisothermal = 4.65•10-10 m2/N = 2.23•10-8 ft2/lb
• For small changes: ∆ρ/ρ = τ∆p, so that much larger ∆p is
needed to change the density of a liquid
• Incompressible Flow: Constant density…not quite right…we
will see why when we focus on compressibility in Chapter 8
Surface Tension-1
z Near liquid-gas interfaces, the
surface behaves like a stretched
membrane…we call this surface
z Capillary action: Liquid drawn
up a tube from a pan
– Surface tension balances the
weight of the column of fluid
– Note the dimensions of surface
tension, σ (N/m, lb/ft)…it acts
along an arc, not a surface
z φ is called the wetting angle
Surface Tension-2
z Analogy to stretched membranes tells us we can
use Laplace’s formula

z Very complicated phenomenon

– Molecules in the main body of fluid are surrounded by
molecules with attractive forces in all directions
– Molecules near the interface are attracted only by
molecules from within the liquid
– Distorted force field…interface behaves like a membrane
z Fluids such as honey or molasses flow very slowly down
an inclined surface…water goes much faster…the
former are more viscous
z Fluids in motion have oblique stresses…resultant of
pressure and shear due to friction
z Molecules are typical of
where they come from
– Moving up brings a
momentum deficit
– Moving down brings a
momentum surplus
z This gives rise to a force
– Acts in the x direction
– Acts on a surface whose unit normal is in the y direction
z Such a force is, by definition, a shearing force…like
stepping sideways off of a conveyer belt
z For a Newtonian fluid, shear stress, τ, is the product
of the viscosity, µ, and the rate of change of velocity

z A non-Newtonian fluid has a nonlinear relation

z The ratio of µ to ρ appears so frequently, especially
for incompressible flows, that we give it the special
name of kinematic viscosity, and we call it ν
Couette Flow-1
z Example of a viscosity-dominated flow
z Exact solution to the viscous-flow equations
of motion

z Infinite parallel walls

– One wall moving at constant speed U
– Constant pressure
Couette Flow-2
z Experimental observations show that u(0) = 0
and u(h) = U, i.e., fluid sticks to a solid
boundary…No-Slip Boundary Condition
z Velocity is linear, shear stress is constant

z Constant shear stress means viscous effects

are felt throughout the region between the
plates, i.e., it is not confined to the immediate
vicinity of the plates
Couette Flow-3
z In dimensionless form, we have

z We observe the Couette-flow solution


z Otherwise we have transition to turbulence

z This laminar-flow solution can be used when
we have flow in a thin gap (lubrication,
computer disk drives)
Pipe Flow-1
z Flow through a pipe is called Hagen-Poiseuille
flow…another example of an exact solution to
the viscous-flow equations of motion

z Infinitely long pipe, circular cross section of

radius R
z Solve by balancing forces on a cylindrical
segment of fluid of radius r < R
Pipe Flow-2
z Far from the ends of the pipe, the flow is
independent of axial distance, x

z Pressure difference balances shear stress acting

on the circumference of the cylindrical segment
of fluid

z Hence, the shear stress is

Pipe Flow-3
z Since p1 > p2, shear stress resists motion
z Since τ = µdu/dr and the no-slip boundary
condition tells us that u(R) = 0, we can
integrate once to conclude that

z The maximum velocity, um, is

Pipe Flow-4
z This laminar-flow solution will be
realized provided

z Otherwise, the flow will experience

transition to turbulence
z With great care, we can delay transition
to values of ρumR/µ as high as 40000
Ideal Fluid Approximation
z We define an Ideal Fluid or Frictionless
Fluid or Perfect Fluid as one in which only
normal stresses (pressure) act
z By contrast, a Real Fluid always has a shear-
stress component
z This is a drastic simplification that, for a
moving fluid, cannot hold everywhere
z But, for slightly-viscous fluids (e.g., air and
H2O), it’s a good approximation for flow past
slender bodies
z Viscous effects are then confined to very thin
layers called boundary layers
Fluid Mechanics Regimes
Fluid Mechanics Tools
The tools used in fluid mechanics
research have helped in creating
magnificent engineering designs
z Analytical: We will exercise analytical tools
throughout this course
z Experimental: We will discuss simple
experimental methods
z Computational: The computer plays a
significant role in modern fluid-flow studies
Computational Fluid Dynamics
z Since the second half of the 20th century CFD
has advanced dramatically

z Many of the pioneers in this field are still

expanding CFD’s horizons
z Many excellent books have been, and
continue to be written on CFD