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Introduction

Some liquids like petrol, alcohol, water etc. flow more freely than honey, glycerin, oil

etc. This is due to the property of the liquid called viscosity by virtue of which the

liquid opposes the relative motion between its different layers. It is analogous to

friction between solid surfaces, except that it comes into play only when the fluid

flows. Viscosity is estimated in terms of coefficient of viscosity. Poiseuille’s method

is used to determine the coefficient of viscosity where liquid flows through the

capillary tube at different pressures.

horizontally on a bench. The capillary tube must be placed horizontally to avoid flow

of water under the effect of gravity. The capillary must be clean and free from dust or

grease. The bore of the capillary should be narrow and uniformly spherical. M is the

manometer. T is the constant level water tank. Water enters the tank from a water tap

through inlet tube I and flows into the capillary tube constantly through outlet tube O.

There is an excess flow tube F which helps in maintaining the water level constant.

By lowering or raising the constant level tank, the pressure in the manometer can be

altered. By opening the pinch cock Q, the level of water in the manometer on the B

side of capillary goes down to level D. The pinch cock Q is used to maintain a

pressure difference at the two ends of the capillary tube AB. By opening Q, water

starts flowing through the capillary and comes out of the tube and collected in the

measuring cylinder. The volume collected depends on the pressure difference at the

two ends of the capillary tube.

Scale

M

T C

I O D

F

To sink

A B

To tap

Q

l

Figure 1: Poiseuille’s apparatus

In this section we will use the Poiseuille’s apparatus to study the linear and nonlinear

flow of water through the capillary tube and use the data to determine the coefficient of

viscosity of water at room temperature.

Apparatus

• Poiseuille’s apparatus

• Travelling microscope

• Measuring cylinder

• Stop watch.

• Thermometer

Theory

Consider a liquid flowing over a fixed horizontal surface. Each layer of the liquid moves

steadily, parallel to the fixed surface, as long as the motion is slow. The velocity of

different layers of the liquid is different and increases with distance from the fixed

surface (Figure 2). This kind of flow is called laminar or streamline. In case of a liquid

flowing in a tube / capillary, the axial stream is moving with a definite velocity and the

layer in contact with the wall of the tube is at rest (provided the pressure difference

causing the flow is not too great) (Figure 3).

If the pressure difference exceeds a certain limit, the liquid departs from its streamline

and the flow becomes turbulent (Figure 4).Generally in the capillary tube, liquid flow is

laminar. However, when the flow becomes faster, laminar flow gets disrupted and

becomes turbulent. When this occurs, liquid does not flow linearly and smoothly in

adjacent layers, but instead the flow can be described as being chaotic.

A Layer in motion B

C Stationary layer D

dr

r

Figure3: Cross-sectional view of the capillary tube

Laminar

flow

Turbulent

flow

Rate

of

Flow

Reynolds number

exceeded

Pressure Difference

In case the flow remains streamline, the motion is such that any two adjacent layers tend

to destroy their relative motion as if there is a backward dragging tangential force. An

external force is required to overcome this backward drag and to maintain the relative

velocity between different layers of the liquid. According to Newton, the backward

tangential force F on any layer is directly proportional to area A and velocity v of the

layer at a distance x above the surface and inversely proportional to x.

Aν

Fα

x

ηAν

F =− ,

x

(F and v are in opposite directions).

Alternatively,

dν

F = − ηA , (1)

dx

where η is the constant of proportionality called the coefficient of viscosity and dv/dx is

the rate of change of velocity with distance, called the velocity gradient. The value of η

depends on the nature of the liquid. According to Equation (1), the coefficient of

viscosity can be defined as the tangential force per unit area required to maintain a unit

velocity gradient in the liquid.

Consider a liquid flowing through a horizontal capillary tube of internal radius r and

length l. If the flow is streamline, then the volume V of the liquid that flows out per

second under a steady pressure difference P between ends of the tube is given by

π Pr 4

V = .

8lη

This implies

π Pr 4

η= (2)

8lV

This relation is known as Poiseuille’s equation and can be utilized to determine the

coefficient of viscosity by measuring P,r,l and V. If P is expressed in dynes per cm2, r and

l in cm, V in cm3 / sec, then η is determined in dynes sec/cm 2 or poise. If h is the

difference in heights of the free surface of the liquid at the two ends of the capillary tube

and ρ is the density of the liquid, then

P = hρg (3)

Hence from Equations (2) and (3), we get

π hρgr 4

η= . (4)

8lV

Using Equation (4), coefficient of viscosity of water is determined. This is true in case of

streamline motion.

Turbulence does not begin to occur until the velocity of flow becomes high enough that

the flow lamina breaks apart. Therefore, as liquid flow velocity increases, there is not a

gradual increase in turbulence. Instead, the transition between laminar and turbulent flow

is often indicated by a critical Reynolds number. The equation for Reynolds number is

vdρ

R=

η

where v = mean velocity, d = tube/capillary diameter, ρ = density of liquid,

and η= coefficient of viscosity of the liquid.

Learning Outcomes

1. make a pressure difference at the two ends of the capillary tube in terms of liquid

levels in the manometer

2. generate data in linear and nonlinear regions for flow of liquid through capillary

tube

3. show the streamline and turbulent flow by plotting graph using above data

4. determine the coefficient of viscosity of water using linear region of capillary flow.

Pre-Lab Assessment

measurement? Why?

(2) How will you obtain streamline motion through a capillary tube?

(3) How can you change streamline motion to turbulent flow?

(4) Can you use this method for all types of liquid?

(5) What type of capillary tube is used and why?

(6) On what factors does the rate of flow of liquid through a capillary tube depend?

Procedure

2. Open the pinch-cock Q and regulate the pressure difference, so that water flows

out in a stream of drops.

3. Note the steady position of water level in manometer tubes. The difference in levels

h should be large enough to be measured accurately.

4. Place a clean dry graduated cylinder below the flowing water. Start the stop watch

simultaneously and collect the water for at least two minutes. The accuracy of the

result can be improved by collecting a large quantity of water over a large period of

time.

5. Pressure difference between the ends of the capillary may change during the course

of the experiment. Therefore, again note the position of water level in the

manometer tubes and take the mean of both the measurements.

6. Change the rate of flow by opening the pinch–cock further and repeat steps 3 -5 for

another difference in levels h.

7. Repeat step 6 six to seven times and make a record of the measurements in Table 1.

8. Measure the length of the capillary tube AB using a ruler.

9. Note down the temperature of water using thermometer and corresponding density of

water from standard tables.

10. Take a small bore from which the capillary has been cut and measure its inner

diameter in two perpendicular directions (Figure 5) with the help of a traveling

microscope. Take 4-5 such readings and record the observations in Table 2 and 3.

upper

left right

d

lower

Figure 5: Cross-sectional view of the bore of the capillary tube

Observations

Temperature of water, T =……0C

Density of water at T 0C , ρ =….. gm/cc

Least count of measuring cylinder =……cc

Least count of scale of manometer =……. cm

Least count of stop watch =……. s

levels water flow t V

h collected V (s) (cc/s)

(cm) (cc)

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

direction

No. capillary capillary II - I

I II (cm)

(cm) (M.S.R. + L.C. (cm) (M.S.R. +

× V.S.D.) L.C. ×

(cm) V.S.D.)

(cm)

1

2

3

4

Table 3: For determination of diameter of the capillary along the vertical direction

capillary the capillary d2

I II II - I

(cm)

M.S.R. V.S.D. T.R. M.S.R. V.S.D. T.R.

(cm) (M.S.R. + (cm) (M.S.R.

L.C. × + L.C. ×

V.S.D.) V.S.D.)

(cm) (cm)

1

2

3

4

Mean Radius r, of the capillary d/2 = ……cm

Calculations

1. Using Table 3, draw a graph (Figure 4) between rate of flow, V in cc/sec and the

difference of levels, h in cm (pressure difference).

2. The straight line portion of the graph indicates the streamline flow at low pressures

(linear flow). The curved portion of the graph depicts turbulent flow (nonlinear flow).

3. Calculate the slope of the straight line portion of the graph.

4. Substitute the values of r, ρ, g, l and slope in the Equation.(4) and calculate the

coefficient of viscosity, i.e.,

π hρ g r4

η=

8V l

π ρ gr 4 1

= ×

8l slope

Calculation of % error

Estimation of error

π Pr4

η=

8V l

π h ρ g r4

=

8V l

π (h1 − h2 )ρ g r 4

=

8V l

By logarithmic differentiation,

= + + + +

η h1 − h2 r t l V

Here, Δh1 and Δh2 are the least readings on the scale of measurement of the heights h1

and h2; Δr is the least count of the traveling microscope used to measure the radius r of

the capillary tube;Δt is the least count of the stop watch used to measure time t; ΔV is

the least count of the measuring cylinder Δl is the least count of the scale used to

measure the length l of the capillary AB.

Result

Standard value = …….poise

% error = ……..

Glossary

Constant level water tank: This is a set up to maintain a constant pressure by keeping

the level of water in a tank, constant, through continuous flow of water.

Critical velocity: The critical velocity is that velocity of liquid flow, up to which its flow

is streamlined and above which its flow becomes turbulent.

Density: This is the mass of a substance occupying unit volume.

Dragging force: This is the force which opposes the relative motion between the

adjacent layers of liquid.

Laminar flow: A flow in which liquid moves in layers is called a laminar flow.

Manometer: A manometer is a device which indicates the difference between two

pressures or between a single pressure and atmospheric pressure. It is a U-shaped glass

tube filled with some liquid like water or mercury.

Poise: Poise is unit of coefficient of viscosity in CGS units. A liquid has a coefficient of

viscosity of one poise if a force of one dyne is required to maintain a unit velocity

gradient between the layers of area one sq. cm. each.

Reynolds number: A dimensionless number which depends on viscosity , density of

liquid, diameter of the vessel and the velocity of liquid flow. It signifies the transition

from laminar to turbulent flow of the liquid.

Streamline flow: The streamline flow of a liquid is that flow in which every particle of

the liquid follows exactly the path of its preceding particle and has the same velocity in

magnitude and direction as that of its preceding particle while crossing through that point.

Turbulent flow: When a liquid moves with a velocity greater than its critical velocity,

the motion of the particles of liquid becomes irregular. Such a flow is called turbulent

flow.

Traveling microscope: Traveling microscope is an instrument used to measure the

length with a resolution of about 0.05-0.1mm.The purpose of this is to aim at reference

marks with higher accuracy.

Velocity gradient: The rate of change of velocity with distance is called velocity

gradient.

Viscosity: The property of a liquid, which indicates how resistant that liquid is to flow, is

called viscosity. It is estimated in terms of coefficient of viscosity (η). The unit of

coefficient of viscosity is poise or deca poise.

Post-lab Assessment

(2) Can this method be used for finding out the viscosity of a thick oil?

(3) How is η expressed in SI units? How this unit related to poise?

(4) Why the capillary tube should be kept in the horizontal position in the flow method?

(5) Define viscosity and coefficient of viscosity.

(6) What are the practical uses of the knowledge of viscosity?

(7) What would happen if a tube of large bore is used?

(8) Define critical velocity.

a) increases

b) decreases

c) remains same

d) increases and then decreases

(10) With the increase in pressure, the viscosity of liquids

a) increases

b) decreases

c) remains same

d) increases and then decreases

(11) If the walls of arteries of a person are thickened so that their radius reduces to half

of the original value, the blood pressure of the person is expected to

a) increase by a factor of 4

b) increase by a factor of 16

c) decrease by a factor of 4

d) decrease by a factor of 16

(12) Effect of increasing pressure on tooth-paste is to

a) increase its viscosity

b) decrease its viscosity

c) no effect

d) can not be predicted

1. The radius of the capillary tube requires greater care in its measurement since it

occurs in the fourth power in the expression of η .Thus a small error in the

measurement of r, which itself is small will contribute a large proportional error in η.

2. If the pressure difference under which the liquid flows in a horizontal capillary tube

is small, the liquid particles move in a straight path parallel to the axis of the tube and

the motion is streamline

3. By making the pressure difference at the ends of the capillary tube large, the

flow of the liquid becomes turbulent because the liquid particles move in zigzag

paths.

4. No. This method can be suitably applied for liquids of low viscosity.

5. A capillary tube of uniform bore, small radius and large length should be

used. Then only we can assume the motion to be streamlined.

6. It depends on the pressure difference at the two ends of the capillary tube and the

radius of the capillary tube.

1. Viscosity of a liquid decreases but for gases it increases with rise of temperature.

2. No, this method is suitable for liquids having low viscosity. For high viscous

liquids other methods like Stoke’s method is suitable.

3. The unit of viscosity in S.I system is Newton sec /m2.

4. The capillary should be placed in horizontal position to avoid any flow under the

effect of gravity.

5. The property of liquid called viscosity, by virtue of which the liquid opposes the

relative motion between its different layers.

The coefficient of viscosity of a liquid is tangential force acting per unit area over

two adjacent layers of the liquid for a unit velocity gradient.

6. Practical uses of the knowledge of viscosity

(i) The knowledge of viscosity and its variation with temperature helps us to

select a suitable lubricant for a given machine.

(ii) The knowledge of viscosity of some organic liquids such as proteins,

cellulose etc. helps us in determining their shape and molecular weight.

(iii) At railway terminals, the liquids of high viscosity are used as buffers.

(iv) Motion of some instruments is damped by using the viscosity of air or

liquid.

(v) The knowledge of viscosity helped Milliken in determining charge on an

electron.

(vi) The phenomenon of viscosity plays an important role in the circulation of blood

through arteries and veins of human body.

7. The motion of the liquid near the tube axis becomes turbulent and the working

formula can not be used.

8. The critical velocity is that velocity of liquid flow, up to which its flow is streamlined

and above which its flow becomes turbulent.

9. b

10. a

11. b

12. b

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