Fluid Mechanics - Newtonian Versus Non-Newtonian Fluids

Newtonian Versus Non-Newtonian Fluids

A Newtonian fluid (named after Isaac Newton) is defined to be a fluid whose shear stress is linearly proportional to the velocity gradient in the direction perpendicular to the plane of shear. This definition means regardless of the forces acting on a fluid, it continues to flow. For example, water is a Newtonian fluid, because it continues to display fluid properties no matter how much it is stirred or mixed. A slightly less rigorous definition is that the drag of a small object being moved slowly through the fluid is proportional to the force applied to the object. (Compare friction). Important fluids, like water as well as most gases, behave — to good approximation — as a Newtonian fluid under normal conditions on Earth.

By contrast, stirring a non-Newtonian fluid can leave a "hole" behind. This will gradually fill up over time – this behaviour is seen in materials such as pudding, oobleck, or sand (although sand isn't strictly a fluid). Alternatively, stirring a non-Newtonian fluid can cause the viscosity to decrease, so the fluid appears "thinner" (this is seen in non-drip paints). There are many types of non-Newtonian fluids, as they are defined to be something that fails to obey a particular property — for example, most fluids with long molecular chains can react in a non-Newtonian manner.

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