Fluid Mechanics – Bernoulli’s Principle

in Physics

Bernoulli’s principle was originally stated to explain the action of a liquid flowing through the varying cross-sectional areas of tubes. In Figure 3-46 a tube is shown in which the cross-sectional area gradually decreases to a minimum diameter in its center section. A tube constructed in this manner is called a “venturi,” or “venturi tube.” Where the cross-sectional area is decreasing, the passageway is referred to as a converging duct. As the passageway starts to spread out, it is referred to as a diverging duct.

As a liquid (fluid) flows through the venturi tube, the gauges at points “A,” “B,” and “C” are positioned to register the velocity and the static pressure of the liquid. The venturi in Figure 3-46 can be used to illustrate Bernoulli’s principle, which states that: The static pressure of a fluid (liquid or gas) decreases at points where the velocity of the fluid increases, provided no energy is added to nor taken away from the fluid. The velocity of the air is kinetic energy and the static pressure of the air is potential energy.


In the wide section of the venturi (points A and C of Figure 3-46), the liquid moves at low velocity, producing a high static pressure, as indicated by the pressure gauge. As the tube narrows in the center, it must contain the same volume of fluid as the two end areas. In this narrow section, the liquid moves at a higher velocity, producing a lower pressure than that at points A and C, as indicated by the velocity gauge reading high and the pressure gauge reading low. A good application for the use of the venturi principle is in a float-type carburetor. As the air flows through the carburetor on its way to the engine, it goes through a venturi, where the static pressure is reduced. The fuel in the carburetor, which is under a higher pressure, flows into the lower pressure venturi area and mixes with the air.

Figure 3-46. Bernoulli’s principle and a venturi.

Figure 3-46. Bernoulli’s principle and a venturi.

Bernoulli’s principle is extremely important in understanding how some of the systems used in aviation work, including how the wing of an airplane generates lift or why the inlet duct of a turbine engine on a subsonic airplane is diverging in shape. The wing on a slow moving airplane has a curved top surface and a relatively flat bottom surface. The curved top surface acts like half of the converging shaped middle of a venturi. As the air flows over the top of the wing, the air speeds up, and its static pressure decreases. The static pressure on the bottom of the wing is now greater than the pressure on the top, and this pressure difference creates the lift on the wing.