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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

This Dam Acts Like a Water Cannon. Let’s Do Some Physics!

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When individuals construct dams—big partitions that maintain again complete lakes and rivers—they should construct an overflow channel referred to as a spillway, a mitigation in opposition to flooding.

A spillway might be one thing so simple as a path for water to movement excessive of the dam, or extra sophisticated, like a aspect channel. Generally, there may be only a massive gap on the backside of the dam (on the dry aspect) in order that water can simply shoot out like an enormous water cannon. That is the way it works on the Funil Hydropower Plant in Brazil. There is a good video displaying the water popping out—it appears to be like like a river within the air, as a result of it principally is a river within the air.

However the actually cool physics of this spillway is that the velocity of the water popping out of the outlet principally simply is determined by the depth of the water behind the dam. As soon as the water leaves the tube, it basically acts like a ball thrown at that very same velocity. Sure, you recognize what I will do: I will use the trajectory of the water leaving the spillway to estimate the depth of the water within the reservoir.

There’s truly a reputation for the connection between water movement and depth—it is referred to as Torricelli’s regulation. Think about you’ve a bucket filled with water and also you poke a gap within the aspect close to the underside. We will use physics to search out the velocity of the water because it flows out.

Let’s begin by contemplating the change in water stage throughout a really brief time interval because the water drains. Here’s a diagram:

Illustration: Rhett Allain

Trying on the high of the bucket, the water stage drops—even when just a bit bit. It would not actually matter how a lot the water stage decreases; what we’re concerned with is the mass of this water, which I label as dm. In physics, we use “d” to characterize a differential quantity of stuff, so this might simply be a tiny quantity of water. This lower in water stage on the high signifies that the water has to go someplace. On this case, it’s leaving by the outlet. The mass of the exiting water should even be dm. (It’s a must to maintain observe of all of the water.)

Now let’s consider this from an vitality perspective. The water is a closed system, so the overall vitality have to be fixed. There are two sorts of vitality to consider on this case. First, there may be gravitational potential vitality (Ug = mgy). That is the vitality related to the peak of an object above the floor of the Earth, and it is determined by the peak, the mass, and the gravitational area (g = 9.8 N/kg). The second sort of vitality is kinetic vitality (Ok = (1/2)mv2). That is an vitality that is determined by the mass and the velocity (v) of an object.



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