What is an Ideal Fluid?

By Balaji

Updated on: March 16th, 2023

An Ideal Fluid is both incompressible and non-viscous. This means that an ideal liquid is a nonviscous liquid that contains zero tangible forces among the layers of the liquids in relative motion. The density of the liquid remains the same even after the application of pressure as it is incompressible. The flow of the ideal fluid is smooth because it is irrotational.

Ideal Fluid

As you know, fluids have the ability to flow and be deformed under the continuous influence of a tangential force. Fluids like air and water can be considered ideal fluids due to their very low value of viscosity. Moreover, there are many applications of an ideal fluid. Perhaps the most common application is the Bernoulli equation or the continuity equation.

An ideal fluid is sometimes also referred to as a perfect fluid as they are incompressible, and so, neither its volume nor density changes with pressure. Lastly, there are no examples of ideal fluids in the real world as they only exist in theory.

Properties of an Ideal Fluid

The properties of an ideal fluid are as follows:

  • An ideal fluid is incompressible. This means that the density of the liquid is constant, no matter how much the pressure is. Even when the fluid is subjected to external pressure, the density of a perfect fluid never changes due to the compressibility attribute.
  • It is non-vicious in nature. There is no tangential force between the layers of liquid in relative motion.
  • Its flow is steady. It means that the ideal fluid’s velocity is constant.
  • An ideal fluid cannot withstand shearing stress.
  • The surface tension of the ideal fluids is zero.
  • Ideal fluid particles don’t rotate around their centers of mass (irrotational). Although the individual fluid particles are irrotational, an ideal fluid can flow in a circular pattern.

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