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Stephen Mirdo

Table of Contents

Object ………………………………………..………………………….………….…. p. 1

Theory …………………………………………………………………………….....…p. 1

Object

The object of this fluid property experiment was to determine the viscosity of a

particular homogenous fluid using the falling sphere viscometer method.

Theory

Viscosity is a fluid property defined as the fluid’s resistance to an externally

applied shear. From this definition, it is implied that a fluid will resist any change in

form. If a solid object is placed in a fluid that has a lesser density, the object will fall

through the fluid medium. As the object falls, it exerts a shear force on the fluid. Thus,

the fluid is displaced and exerts a force on the object. The forces present during this

process are weight due to gravity, the buoyant force and the drag force as shown below in

a force balance equation (Equation 1, below).

Equation 2 is a less general form of the force balance equation and illustrates the

importance of the falling object’s geometry and motion in relation to the forces present.

A graphical representation of the above equations can be seen in Figure 1. The

components of the equation are as follows:

ρ – density of the fluid

g – gravitational acceleration

R – radius of the object

µ – viscosity of the fluid

V – terminal velocity of the object

object and acts in the downward direction. The density of the object is directly related to

the magnitude of this acceleration. The more dense an object is, the greater the weight.

The buoyant force in Equation 2 is caused by the pressure gradient exerted by the

fluid on the object. The lateral forces of this pressure are equal and opposite and therefore

negate one another. The pressure on the submerged object acting in the vertical is lesser

on the top than on the bottom and exerts a net upward force on the object.

The drag force in Equation 2 acts in the opposite direction of the relative motion

of the object traveling through the fluid. Therefore, the force acts in the direction of the

fluid flow. The cause of the drag force is due to the viscous effects of the fluid on the

surface of the submerged object.

1

Procedure

Equipment:

Stainless Steel Sphere

ρs = 8000 kg/m3

Figure 3: Digital Stopwatch

Salon Care Professional brand

White Tea Ginger Shampoo

with attached scale. ρ = 1032 Figure 4: Digital Calipers

kg/m3

Experiment:

1) Measure the diameter of the stainless steel ball bearings with the digital calipers

and record the measurements onto a data sheet. It is better to select bearings that

have identical diameters. Make note of the density of the material used in the

bearings.

2) Make note of the ambient temperature where the experiment is being performed,

as density is a function of the temperature of the fluid.

3) Fill a transparent tube with a particular fluid of a known density. Affixed to the

tube should be a ruler so that velocity measurements can be made. The tube

should be topped with a cap that has a hole in the center large enough for the

bearing to ensure that the bearing will travel down the center if the cylinder.

4) Drop one stainless steel bearing into the fluid filled cylinder and observe the

position relative to the ruler at which the bearing achieves terminal velocity. Let

this point be the initial point from which time measurements are made. Assign

another arbitrary point at which the time measurement will cease.

5) After the distance for time measurement has been assigned, proceed to drop

another bearing into the fluid. When the bearing reaches the assigned point for

beginning time measurements, start a stopwatch. Stop the stopwatch when the

2

bearing has reached the assigned terminus. Record the time taken to travel

between the two assigned points. Repeat this step four more times and record the

times.

6) Average the times recorded from Step 5. Use this time to determine the terminal

velocity of the falling sphere by the assigned distance by the averaged time. This

velocity will be used to determine the drag force.

7) Use the terminal velocity calculated in Step 6, the respective densities of the fluid

and sphere, radius of the sphere and gravitational acceleration in Equation 2.

Rearrange the expression algebraically to solve for the viscosity, µ.

Results

Stainless Steel Ball Bearing Density ρs = 8000 kg/m3

Stainless Steel Ball Bearing Diameter d = 9.52 mm

Shampoo Density ρ = 1032 kg/m3

Displacement on Scale z = 0.244 m

Ambient Lab Temperature T = 23 oC

Trial # Time (s)

1 3.86

2 4.03

3 3.19

4 4.75

5 4.09

tavg = 3.98 s

Initial conditions seen in Table 1 were measured with the exception of the density

of the stainless steel bearings. The value for this density was pulled from a professionally

published source. The density of the shampoo was measured using a hydrometer. The

displacement on the scale was measured in English units as 8/10 ft. This value was

converted to SI units as shown in Table 1. The lab temperature was also recorded for the

purposes of ascertaining the temperature of the shampoo used in this experiment.

After dropping the stainless steel sphere into the fluid filled cylinder five

successive times and averaging the recorded times, the terminal velocity was calculated.

3

The terminal velocity was the remaining unknown value for Equation 3.

Substituting this value into the equation calculates the viscosity of the shampoo.

The terminal velocity of two different size spheres would not be identical.

Assuming the spheres were made of the same material, a change in the geometry of the

sphere would alter its weight and therefore alter the force it exerted on the fluid. For this

experiment, a smaller sphere dropped from the same height would reach a higher terminal

velocity due to the smaller amount of surface area in contact with the viscous material.

In turn, a larger sphere would have a larger surface area and would therefore have more

surface contact with the viscous fluid and have a lower terminal velocity. (1 & 2)

The viscosity would be the same for spheres of varying size because viscosity is a

property of the fluid and not of the sphere. The geometry of the sphere will influence the

terminal velocity, which is proportional to the radius of the sphere. Therefore a larger

sphere, with increased mass, would travel at a higher velocity. (3)

There are various shortcomings in the measurements taken for this experiment.

Due to human error, the time measurements for this experiment are not exact. An

observer must “eyeball” the entirety of the sphere’s travel across the displacement.

Introducing automation to this experiment for the purposes of timing would increase its

accuracy. (4)

The temperature for this experiment needs to be recorded because it will affect the

density of the liquid medium. The higher the temperature, the less dense the material will

become. This is the result of thermal expansion. The opposite can be said of a cold fluid,

which will be denser. The density of the fluid has a direct correlation with its viscosity,

which can be deduced by Equation 2. (5)

This method can be used for gases; however, it would not produce desirable

results. It would be difficult without automation to record the velocity of the object over a

short distance such as that in this experiment. (6)

This method could be used for opaque fluids, though it would require specialized

instrumentation. In order to perform a falling sphere viscometer experiment with opaque

fluids, some sort of imaging technology would be required to keep track of the falling

object. It is possible to do this using, for instance, thermal imaging. If the sphere were at

a different temperature than the fluid, it could be tracked as it passed through the fluid.

As long as the sphere has a higher density than the test fluid, this experiment can be

performed on a variety of opaque fluid. However, this method will not work on

inhomogeneous fluids such. (7 & 8)

4

Appendix

Data Usage

The following is the calculation used to obtain the terminal velocity of the falling sphere:

V = z/tave V = 0.224 m / 3.98 s V = 5.63 x 10-2 m/s

Bibliography

Introduction to Fluid Mechanics, 3rd Edition

W.S.Janna (1993)

W.D. Callister, Jr and D.G. Rethwish (2008)

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