Bernoulli's Principle

Bernoulli's Principle

This is an important principle involving the movement of a fluid through a pressure difference. Suppose a fluid is moving in a horizontal direction and encounters a pressure difference. This pressure difference will result in a net force, which by Newton's 2nd law will cause an acceleration of the fluid. The fundamental relation,

$\textstyle \parbox{4.5in}{\vspace*{5pt} work done = change in kinetic energy \vspace*{5pt}}$ 
in this situation can be written as

$\textstyle \parbox{4.5in}{\vspace*{5pt} - (change in pressure) x area x distance = change in kinetic energy, \vspace*{5pt}}$ 

which furthermore can be expressed as 

$\textstyle \parbox{4.5in}{\vspace*{5pt} change in pressure + change in ( kinetic energy / volume ) = 0. \vspace*{5pt}}$ 
In other words, 
\fbox{\parbox{4.5in}{\vspace*{7pt} Pressure + ( kinetic energy / volume ) = constant \vspace*{7pt}}} 

which is known as Bernoulli's principle. This is very similar to the statement we encountered before for a freely falling object, where the gravitational potential energy plus the kinetic energy was constant (i. e., was conserved).

Bernoulli's principle thus says that a rise (fall) in pressure in a flowing fluid must always be accompanied by a decrease (increase) in the speed, and conversely, if an increase (decrease) in , the speed of the fluid results in a decrease (increase) in the pressure. This is at the heart of a number of everyday phenomena. As a very trivial example, Bernouilli's principle is responsible for the fact that a shower curtain gets ``sucked inwards'' when the water is first turned on. What happens is that the increased water/air velocity inside the curtain (relative to the still air on the other side) causes a pressure drop. The pressure difference between the outside and inside causes a net force on the shower curtain which sucks it inward. A more useful example is provided by the functioning of a perfume bottle: squeezing the bulb over the fluid creates a low pressure area due to the higher speed of the air, which subsequently draws the fluid up. This is illustrated in the following figure.



Figure 7.2: Action of a spray atomizer
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Bernouilli's principle also tells us why windows tend to explode, rather than implode in hurricanes: the very high speed of the air just outside the window causes the pressure just outside to be much less than the pressure inside, where the air is still. The difference in force pushes the windows outward, and hence explode. If you know that a hurricane is coming it is therefore better to open as many windows as possible, to equalize the pressure inside and out.

Another example of Bernoulli's principle at work is in the lift of aircraft wings and the motion of ``curve balls'' in baseball. In both cases the design is such as to create a speed differential of the flowing air past the object on the top and the bottom - for aircraft wings this comes from the movement of the flaps, and for the baseball it is the presence of ridges. Such a speed differential leads to a pressure difference between the top and bottom of the object, resulting in a net force being exerted, either upwards or downwards. This is illustrated in the following figure.



Figure 7.3: Lift of an aircraft wing
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