Properties of Fluids - Fluid Flow

Fluid Flow Table of Contents
Hydraulic and Pneumatic Knowledge

Properties of Fluids

A fluid is any substance which flows because its particles are not rigidly attached to one another. This includes liquids, gases and even some materials which are normally considered solids, such as glass. Essentially, fluids are materials which have no repeating crystalline structure.

Several properties of fluids were discussed in the Thermodynamics section of this web site. These included temperature, pressure, mass, specific volume and density. Temperature was defined as the relative measure of how hot or cold a material is. It can be used to predict the direction that heat will be transferred. Pressure was defined as the force per unit area. Common units for pressure are pounds force per square inch (psi). Mass was defined as the quantity of matter contained in a body and is to be distinguished from weight, which is measured by the pull of gravity on a body. The specific volume of a substance is the volume per unit mass of the substance. Typical units are ft3/lbm. Density, on the other hand, is the mass of a substance per unit volume. Typical units are lbm/ft3. Density and specific volume are the inverse of one another. Both density and specific volume are dependant on the temperature and somewhat on the pressure of the fluid. As the temperature of the fluid increases, the density decreases and the specific volume increases. Since liquids are considered incompressible, an increase in pressure will result in no change in density or specific volume of the liquid. In actuality, liquids can be slightly compressed at high pressures, resulting in a slight increase in density and a slight decrease in specific volume of the liquid.