Newtonian Fluid - Definition, Examples, Industrial Applications

By Mohit Uniyal|Updated : August 26th, 2022

A Newtonian Fluid is one whose viscosity is unaffected by shear rate: when all other factors are equal, flow speeds and shear rates have no effect on viscosity. Newtonian fluids include air and water. Some liquids, on the other hand, have viscosities that alter with shear rate. When force is applied to Newtonian liquids, such as water, their viscosity does not change. When force is applied to non-Newtonian fluids like ketchup, their viscosity changes. 

Before we go into the details of a Newtonian fluid, let's define fluid. Any liquid, gas, or generally any material that, when at rest, cannot withstand a tangential, or shearing, force and undergoes a continual change in shape when subjected to such stress is referred to as a fluid. Flow is a characteristic attribute of fluids that describes the continuous and irreversible change in position of one portion of a material relative to another when it is subjected to shear stress. Let's take a closer look at Newtonian fluid, the definition of a Newtonian fluid, and Industrial Applications along with appropriate examples.

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What is Newtonian Fluid?

Newtonian Fluid Definition

Newtonian fluid is defined as the fluid which will have viscous stresses generated from its flow that are linearly proportional to the local strain rate, the rate at which its deformation changes over time at every site. The rate of change of the fluid's velocity vector determines the stress.

Newtonian Fluid Meaning

A fluid is a Newtonian fluid only if the tensors describing viscous stress and strain rate are coupled by a constant viscosity tensor that is independent of the flow's stress state and velocity. The viscosity tensor is reduced to two real coefficients reflecting the fluid's resistance to continuous shear deformation and continuous compression or expansion, respectively, when the fluid is also isotropic (mechanical properties are the same in all directions).

The simplest mathematical models of fluid flow that account for viscosity are Newtonian fluids. While no real liquid or gas exactly meets the description, many common liquids and gases, like water and air, can be considered to be Newtonian for practical calculations under normal circumstances. Non-Newtonian fluids, on the other hand, are rather frequent and include oobleck (which stiffens when vigorously sheared) and non-drip paint (which becomes thinner when sheared).

Newton’s Law of Viscosity

The relationship between the shear stress and the shear rate of a fluid subjected to mechanical stress is defined by Newton's law of viscosity. The viscosity of the Newtonian Fluid is a constant for a given temperature and pressure and is defined as the ratio of shear stress to shear rate. Mathematically,

τ= μ(du/dy)


  • τ is the shear stress;
  • μ is the viscosity, and
  • (du)/(dy) is the shear rate.

Newtonian Fluid Example

Newtonian fluids are single-phase fluids made up of tiny molecules in general (but not always). In the case of Newtonian Fluids "Viscosityof the Newtonian fluid is solely a function of the fluid's condition, particularly its temperature". Here is an example of Newtonian fluid.

  • Water, sugar solutions, glycerin
  • silicone oils, light hydrocarbons, air
  • alcohol, glycerol
  • thin motor oil, and other gases

Industrial Applications of Newtonian Fluid

The simplest mathematical models of fluids that account for viscosity are Newtonian fluids. While no real liquid or gas exactly meets the description, many common liquids and gases, like water and air, can be considered to be Newtonian for practical calculations under normal circumstances. The common applications of Newtonian and Non-Newtonian fluids in the industry are listed below.


Newtonian fluids are ideal for lubrication applications. Even though they alter viscosity as a function of temperature, these fluids do not change viscosity as a function of shear. A good example is motor oil. In a nutshell, it remains fluid at lower temperatures but doesn't get too thin at higher engine operating temperatures. The important thing is that it does not change viscosity when it is shared between the engine elements. This is critical if it is to perform its function of separating parts and decreasing friction and wear. If the viscosity tumbled as a function of shear, it would be easily dislodged, and the metal components would destroy each other.


Non-Newtonian fluids, on the other hand, are ideal for coating applications. The viscosity of these fluids changes as a function of shear as well as temperature. We can obviously change the viscosity of the coating by heating or cooling it. Modern coatings' shear-thinning feature, on the other hand, has numerous uses in the application process.

Take, for example, a spraying procedure. The spray gun orifice is known as "the ultimate shear device." The addition of shear at this point in the dispense causes the coating to thin. This is advantageous since it is still at a low viscosity when it reaches the part, allowing it to flow out evenly and with a nice surface finish. The fluid will then recover from the nozzle's shear.

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FAQs on Newtonian Fluid

  • A Newtonian fluid is a fluid whose viscosity is independent of shear rate. All other factors being equal, flow velocity and shear rate have no effect on viscosity. A few examples of Newtonian fluid are:

    • Water,
    • alcohol,
    • sugar solutions,
    • glycerin
    • glycerol
  • Blood was once thought to be a Newtonian fluid. Thurston, on the other hand, stated that viscoelasticity is a fundamental rheological feature of blood. The viscoelastic qualities of human blood, which make it non-Newtonian, are dependent on the elasticity of red blood cells.

  • No, It's a non-Newtonian fluid, which means its viscosity (stickiness) changes depending on how much force is applied. Jelly can keep its shape for a while, but it is a liquid, and it will eventually take on the shape of its container (eventually free-standing jellies will collapse on the plate).

  • No, The rheological behaviour of ice cream has been determined to correlate to a shear-thinning non-Newtonian fluid. Furthermore, as the temperature drops and the crystal concentration rises, this fluid has a viscoelastic behaviour.

  • The following are some examples of Newtonian fluids that are commonly encountered.

    • Water
    • Air
    • Alcohol
    • Glycerol
    • Thin motor oil
  • Yes, Because the viscosity of pure diesel fuel remains constant with the shear rate, it has a Newtonian profile. With non-Newtonian flow behaviour of yield pseudoplastic response, all W/D emulsions have a higher viscosity than diesel fuel. With increasing shear rate and water addition, the viscosity of the W/D emulsions falls.



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