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Fluid - is a substance that continually deforms (flows) under an applied shear stress.

gases are fluids, but not all liquids are fluids. Fluids are a subset of the phases of matter
and include liquids, gases, plasmas and, to some extent, plastic solids.

Density and Specific Gravity

The density of a substance is its weight per unit volume. The unit volume in the
English system of measurement is 1 cubic foot. In the metric system it is the cubic
centimeter; therefore, density is expressed in pounds per cubic foot or in grams per cubic
centimeter. To find the density of a substance, you must know its weight and volume.
You then divide its weight by its volume to find the weight per unit volume. In equation
form, this is written as

EXAMPLE: The liquid that fills a certain container weighs 1,497.6 pounds. The
container is 4 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 2 feet deep. Its volume is 24 cubic feet (4
ft x 3 ft x 2 ft). If 24 cubic feet of this liquid weighs 1,497.6 pounds, then 1 cubic foot

Or 62.4 pounds. Therefore, the density of the liquid is 62.4 pounds per cubic foot.
This is the density of water at 4°C and is usually used as the standard for
comparing densities of other substances. The temperature of 4°C was selected because
water has its maximum density at this temperature. In the metric system, the density of
water is 1 gram per cubic centimeter. The standard temperature of 4°C is used
whenever the density of liquids and solids is measured. Changes in temperature
will not change the weight of a substance but will change the volume of the substance
by expansion or contraction, thus changing the weight per unit volume.

In physics, the word specific implies a ratio. Weight is the measure of the earth’s
attraction for a body. The earth’s attraction for a body is called gravity. Thus, the ratio
of the weight of a unit volume of some substance to the weight of an equal
volume of a standard substance, measured under standard pressure and temperature
con- ditions, is called specific gravity. The terms specific weight and specific density
are sometimes used to express this ratio. The following formulas are used to find the
specific gravity (sp gr) of solids and liquids, with water used as the standard substance.

The same formulas are used to find the specific gravity of gases by substituting air,
oxygen, or hydrogen for water.

If a cubic foot of a certain liquid weighs 68.64 pounds, then its specific gravity is

Fluids Pressure and Depth

Thus, the specific gravity of the liquid is the ratio of its density to the density of water. If
the specific gravity of a liquid or solid is known, the density of the liquid or solid maybe
obtained by multiplying its specific gravity by the density of water. For example, if a
certain hydraulic liquid has a specific gravity of 0.8, 1 cubic foot of the liquid
weighs 0.8 times as much as a cubic foot of water—0.8 times 62.4, or 49.92
pounds. In the metric system, 1 cubic centimeter of a substance with a specific gravity of
0.8 weighs 1 times 0.8, or 0.8 grams. (Note that in the metric system the specific gravity
of a liquid or solid has the same numerical value as its density, because water weighs
1 gram per cubic centimeter.) Specific gravity and density are independent of the size
of the sample under consideration and depend only on the substance of which it is made.
A device called a hydrometer is used for measuring the specific gravity of

A fluid is a substance that flows easily. Gases and liquids are fluids, although sometimes
the dividing line between liquids and solids is not always clear. Because of their ability to
flow, fluids can exert buoyant forces, multiply forces in hydraulic systems, and allow
aircraft to fly and ships to float.

The topic that this page will explore will be pressure and depth. If a fluid is within a
container then the depth of an object placed in that fluid can be measured. The deeper the
object is placed in the fluid, the more pressure it experiences. This is because is the
weight of the fluid above it. The denser the fluid above it, the more pressure is exerted on
the object that is submerged, due to the weight of the fluid.

The formula that gives the P pressure on an object submerged in a fluid is:



• r (rho) is the density of the fluid,

• g is the acceleration of gravity
• h is the height of the fluid above the object

If the container is open to the atmosphere above, the added pressure must be included if
one is to find the total pressure on an object. The total pressure is the same as absolute
pressure on pressure gauges readings, while the gauge pressure is the same as the fluid
pressure alone, not including atmospheric pressure.

Ptotal = Patmosphere + Pfluid

Ptotal = Patmosphere + (r * g * h)

A Pascal is the unit of pressure in the metric system. It represents 1 newton/m2

Find the pressure on a scuba diver when she is 12 meters below the surface of the ocean.
Assume standard atmospheric conditions.

The density of sea water is 1.03 X 10 3 kg/m3 and the atmospheric pressure is 1.01 x 105

Pfluid = r g h = (1.03 x10 3 kg/m3) (9.8 m/s2) (12 m) = 1.21 x 105 Newtons/m2

Ptotal = Patmosphere + Pfluid = (1.01 x 105) + (1.21 x 105) Pa = 2.22 x 10 2 kPa (kilo Pascals)


1. What is the pressure experienced at a point on the bottom of a swimming pool 9

meters in depth? The density of water is 1.00 x 103 kg/m3.

Answer = 189 kP

2. The interior of a submarine located at a depth of 45 meters is maintained at

normal atmospheric conditions. Find the total force exerted on a 20 cm by 20 cm
square window. Use the density of sea water given above.

Answer=1.81 X 10 4 newtons

3. How many atmospheres is a depth of 100 meters of ocean water?

Answer=11 atm

4. If the weight density of pure water is 62 pounds/ft3, find the weight of water in a
swimming pool whose dimensions are 20 ft by 10 ft by 6 feet.

74,400 pounds
5. An airplane in level flight whose mass is 20,000 kg has a wing area of 60 m2.
What is the pressure difference between the upper and lower surfaces of its wing?
Express your answer in atmospheres.

Answer=.032 atm

What is the difference between gauge and absolute pressure?

Determining whether you need gauge or absolute reference pressure is as important as

selecting the pressure range itself, particularly for low pressure measurements. If you get
it wrong your measurements are going to be out by approximately 1 bar, which could be
a huge error if you have specified a 10 bar range for example.

Also if you have taken delivery of a pressure transducer with the wrong pressure
reference it will normally mean that the manufacturer will have to build a replacement
because the reference pressure often determines the base construction of the sensing

The most common pressure reference is gauge pressure which is signified by a ‘g’ after
the pressure unit e.g. 30 psi g, this indicates that the pressure measured is the total
pressure minus atmospheric pressure. There are two types of gauge reference pressure:
vented gauge (vg) and sealed gauge (sg),

A vented gauge pressure transmitter for example allows the outside air pressure to be
exposed to the negative side of the pressure sensing diaphragm via a vented cable or a
hole on the side of the device, so that it always measures with reference to the ambient
barometric pressure. Thus a vented gauge reference pressure sensor reads zero pressure
when the process pressure connection is held open to atmospheric air.

A sealed gauge reference is very similar except that atmospheric pressure is sealed on the
negative side of the diaphragm. This is usually adopted on high pressure applications
such as measuring hydraulic pressures where atmospheric pressure changes will have
negligible effect on the accuracy of the sensor so venting is not necessary. This also
allows manufacturers to provide secondary pressure containment for extra protection if
the burst pressure of the sensing diaphragm is exceeded.

There is another way of creating a sealed gauge reference and this is to seal a high
vacuum on the reverse side of the sensing diaphragm. Then by adjusting the electronics,
the output signal is offset by 1 bar so the pressure sensor reads close to zero when
measuring atmospheric pressure.
A sealed gauge reference pressure transducer will never read exactly zero when left open
to atmospheric air, because atmospheric pressure is always changing and the reference in
this case is fixed at a nominal 1 bar.

An absolute pressure measurement is one that is referred to absolute vacuum. The best
example of an absolute referenced pressure is the measurement of barometric pressure.

In order to produce an absolute pressure sensor the manufacturer will seal a high vacuum
behind the sensing diaphragm. Therefore if you hold open the process pressure
connection of an absolute pressure transmitter to the air it will read the actual barometric

So how do you know when to measure absolute pressure or when to measure gauge

This is not always straightforward but generally if you want to measure or control a
pressure that is influenced by changes in atmospheric pressure, e.g. the level of liquid in
an open tank or the output pressure of an air compressor; you would use a vented gauge
pressure instrument since you are interested in the pressure reading minus the
atmospheric pressure component.

If you want to measure pressures that are not influenced by changes in atmospheric
pressure, e.g. leak testing a completely sealed non-flexible container, you would use an
absolute pressure sensor. If a gauge pressure sensor was used instead to measure the
container pressure and the barometric pressure changed then the sensor’s reading would
change despite the fact that the pressure in the container remains the same.

Examples of pressure gauges

Mercury barometer - A barometer is an instrument used to measure atmospheric

pressure. It can measure the pressure exerted by the atmosphere by using water, air, or
mercury. Pressure tendency can forecast short term changes in the weather. Numerous
measurements of air pressure are used within surface weather analysis to help find
surface troughs, high pressure systems, and frontal boundaries.
Open-tube manometer - The open-tube manometer is another device that can be used to
measure pressure. The open-tube manometer is used to measure the pressure of a gas in a

Aneroid barometer- is an instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure. It is constructed

on the following principles: an aneroid capsule (Vidie capsule, which is a thin, disk-
shaped box or capsule, usually metallic) is partially evacuated of gas, and is restrained
from collapsing by an external or internal spring. The deflection of the spring will be
nearly proportional to the difference between the internal and external pressures.
Magnification of the spring deflection is obtained both by connecting capsules in series
and by mechanical linkages.