Venturi effect

The Venturi effect is the reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section (or choke) of a pipe. The Venturi effect is named after Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746–1822), an Italian physicist.


In fluid dynamics, an incompressible fluid's velocity must increase as it passes through a constriction in accord with the principle of mass continuity, while its static pressure must decrease in accord with the principle of conservation of mechanical energy (Bernoulli's principle). Thus, any gain in kinetic energy a fluid may attain due to its increased velocity through a constriction is balanced by a drop in pressure.

By measuring the change in pressure, the flow rate can be determined, as in various flow measurement devices such as Venturi meters, Venturi nozzles and orifice plates.

Referring to the adjacent diagram, using Bernoulli's equation in the special case of steady, incompressible, inviscid flows (such as the flow of water or other liquid, or low speed flow of gas) along a streamline, the theoretical pressure drop at the constriction is given by:

where is the density of the fluid, is the (slower) fluid velocity where the pipe is wider, is the (faster) fluid velocity where the pipe is narrower (as seen in the figure).

Choked flow

The limiting case of the Venturi effect is when a fluid reaches the state of choked flow, where the fluid velocity approaches the local speed of sound. When a fluid system is in a state of choked flow, a further decrease in the downstream pressure environment will not lead to an increase in the mass flow rate. However, mass flow rate for a compressible fluid will increase with increased upstream pressure, which will increase the density of the fluid through the constriction (though the velocity will remain constant). This is the principle of operation of a de Laval nozzle. Increasing source temperature will also increase the local sonic velocity, thus allowing for increased mass flow rate but only if the nozzle area is also increased to compensate for the resulting decrease in density.

Expansion of the section

The Bernoulli equation is invertible, and pressure should rise when a fluid slows down. Nevertheless, if there is an expansion of the tube section, turbulence will appear and the theorem will not hold. In all experimental Venturi tubes, the pressure in the entrance is compared to the pressure in the middle section; the output section is never compared with them.

Experimental apparatus

A pair of Venturi tubes on a light aircraft, used to provide airflow for air-driven gyroscopic instruments

Venturi tubes

The simplest apparatus is a tubular setup known as a Venturi tube or simply a Venturi (plural: "Venturis" or occasionally "Venturies"). Fluid flows through a length of pipe of varying diameter. To avoid undue aerodynamic drag, a Venturi tube typically has an entry cone of 30 degrees and an exit cone of 5 degrees.[1]

Venturi tubes are used in processes where permanent pressure loss is not tolerable and where maximum accuracy is needed in case of highly viscous liquids.

Orifice plate

Venturi tubes are more expensive to construct than simple orifice plates, and both function on the same basic principle. However, for any given differential pressure, orifice plates cause significantly more permanent energy loss.[2]

Instrumentation and measurement

Both Venturis and orifice plates are used in industrial applications and in scientific laboratories for measuring the flow rate of liquids.

Flow rate

A Venturi can be used to measure the volumetric flow rate, .



A Venturi can also be used to mix a liquid with a gas. If a pump forces the liquid through a tube connected to a system consisting of a Venturi to increase the liquid speed (the diameter decreases), a short piece of tube with a small hole in it, and last a Venturi that decreases speed (so the pipe gets wider again), the gas will be sucked in through the small hole because of changes in pressure. At the end of the system, a mixture of liquid and gas will appear. See aspirator and pressure head for discussion of this type of siphon.

Differential pressure

As fluid flows through a Venturi, the expansion and compression of the fluids cause the pressure inside the Venturi to change. This principle can be used in metrology for gauges calibrated for differential pressures. This type of pressure measurement may be more convenient, for example, to measure fuel or combustion pressures in jet or rocket engines.

The first large-scale Venturi meters to measure liquid flows were developed by Clemens Herschel who used them to measure small and large flows of water and wastewater beginning at the end of the 19th century.[3] While working for the Holyoke Water Power Company, Herschel would develop the means for measuring these flows to determine the water power consumption of different mills on the Holyoke Canal System, first beginning development of the device in 1886, two years later he would describe his invention of the Venturi meter to William Unwin in a letter dated June 5, 1888.[4]


The Venturi effect may be observed or used in the following:

Venturi tubes are also used to measure the speed of a fluid, by measuring pressure changes at different segments of the device. Placing a liquid in a U-shaped tube and connecting the ends of the tubes to both ends of a Venturi is all that is needed. When the fluid flows through the Venturi the pressure in the two ends of the tube will differ, forcing the liquid to the "low pressure" side. The amount of that move can be calibrated to the speed of the fluid flow.[2]

See also


  1. Nasr, G. G.; Connor, N. E. (2014). "5.3 Gas Flow Measurement". Natural Gas Engineering and Safety Challenges: Downstream Process, Analysis, Utilization and Safety. Springer. p. 183. ISBN 9783319089485.
  2. "The Venturi effect". Wolfram Demonstrations Project. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
  3. Herschel, Clemens. (1898). Measuring Water. Providence, RI:Builders Iron Foundry.
  4. "Invention of the Venturi Meter". Nature. 136 (3433): 254. August 17, 1935. doi:10.1038/136254a0. [The article] reproduces a letter from Herschel to the late Dr. Unwin describing his invention of the Venturi Meter. The letter is dated June 5, 1888, and addressed from the hydraulic engineer's office of the Holyoke Water Power Co., Mass. In his letter, Herschel says he tested a one-inch Venturi Meter, under 210 ft. head: 'I am now satisfied that here is a new and pregnant principle to be applied to the art of gauging fluids, inclusive of fluids such as compressed air, illuminating or fuel gases, steam, etc. Further, that the shape of the meter should be trumpet-shaped in both directions; such a meter will measure volumes flowing in either direction, which in certain localities becomes a useful attribute...'
  5. Blasco, Daniel Cortés. "Venturi or air circulation?, that's the question". face2fire (in Spanish). Retrieved 2019-07-14.
  6. Dunlap, David W (December 7, 2006). "At New Trade Center, Seeking Lively (but Secure) Streets". The New York Times.
  7. Dunlap, David W (March 25, 2004). "Girding Against Return of the Windy City in Manhattan". The New York Times.
  8. Dusk to Dawn (educational film). Federal Aviation Administration. 1971. 17 minutes in. AVA20333VNB1.
  9. Anderson, John (2017). Fundamentals of Aerodynamics (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education. p. 218. ISBN 978-1-259-12991-9.
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