## Spreadsheet Analysis of Fluid Mechanics Problems

Spreadsheet Analysis of Fluid Mechanics Problems

Ratan Kumar and Abdulraouf O. Al-Shantaf

Department of Engineering Technology

University of North Texas

Denton TX 76203

Abstract – This paper presents a study to obtain solutions to

some fluid mechanics problems by spreadsheet analysis. By

utilizing some of the many features available in

spreadsheets, which are increasingly gaining popularity in

the industry and academia, different aspects of fluid flow

problems can be easily and graphically examined. It has

been successfully used to study a majority of topics covered

in a typical undergraduate fluid mechanics textbook. Some

of the topics covered were determination of hydrostatic

pressure and forces, buoyancy and stability, Bernoulli’s

equation and open channel flow. The spreadsheet solutions

provided a simple means to solve fluid mechanics problems

and proved to be effective tool in teaching undergraduate

technology students.

Introduction

Fluid mechanics problems require a series of equations to be

followed in order to get a solution. The process is tedious

and possibilities for errors can be relatively high. However

if one has a good understanding of the physics behind the

problem, then by automating the solution process, the

calculation error can be eliminated. In this paper a method

allowing a spreadsheet analysis to these series of equations

is shown. The interactivity between text, spreadsheet and

graphical plotting, that is a common feature of modern

spreadsheet packages, is exploited. This type of analysis

serves as a useful supplemental tool to textbooks in that

mundane mathematical difficulties can be eliminated and

the students can focus on the problem itself. It also befits

the engineering technology teaching style, where emphasis

is on using modern tools to solve problems so that the

students are not bogged down with mathematical

manipulations.

Since the tool was developed for engineering technology

students, the problems used were directly extracted from

engineering technology fluid mechanics book. In this case

the book by Mott[1] was used as the textbook and examples

have been taken from it. It should be noted that spreadsheet

solutions are generic and any other text book could have

been easily selected for this purpose. The software tool used

was Microsoft Excel[2].

In order to use the spreadsheet modules developed for

class purposes, the user must have a solid understanding of

the theory to find a solution for the problem. For instance,

the user must be conversant with fluid tables to input the

right values, be able to calculate some parameters such as

the moment of inertia (during pressure location), be able to

distinguish between turbulent and laminar flow, and be able

to calculate hydraulic radius etc. Some of these input

features can very easily be calculated within the spreadsheet

but were deliberately neglected to be solved by the students.

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