# Building and Validating a Rotational Viscometer

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1 Building and Validating a Rotational Viscometer Brian Cherrington & Jack Rothstein Mechanical Engineering Faculty Mentors: Dr. Maria-Isabel Carnasciali, Dr. Samuel Daniels Abstract This project was an effort to redesign an initial prototype rotational viscometer to experimentally test whether or not viscosity values vary significantly when the geometry of the viscometer is changed. The scope of the project involved designing and building a viscometer that could vary the gap between the inner and outer cylinders, variation of the testing fluid s temperature, and control of the device s RPM. After weeks of planning, designing, and fabrication the new viscometer was complete. In order to control the device, monitor the sensor readings, and calculate the testing fluid s viscosity a LabVIEW program was created. Testing on medium to high viscous fluids was completed to determine if the viscosity values and the geometry of the viscometer are dependent or independent of each other. The results did show a correlation between measured viscosity and variations in the geometry of the viscometer. More testing is required to further verify the results and properly calibrate the device. Introduction Viscosity is often referred to as a fluid s thickness or how much it resists deformation due to an applied force. Rotational viscometers measure the amount of torque needed to rotate an object moving through fluid at a known RPM. Using the measured torque, RPM, and dimensions of the device, the viscosity can be calculated using equation 1. v = (Tg) (15π 2 r 3 )(RPM)(h) Equation 1 The variables represented in Equation 1 are as follows: T is torque (Nm), g is the gap size (m), r is the radius of the inner cylinder (m), and h is the height of the fluid being tested (m). This project was developed to expand on an initial prototype viscometer developed in the fall of 2014 (Figure 1). This was a relatively simple proof of concept model. For this project a new design was conceptualized, fabricated, and tested. This new design met several criteria including, Designed for future use in ME labs; Designed to be durable, sustainable, and easy to dissemble and clean; Multiple inner cylinders for varying gap sizes; Rotational system able to handle very high viscosity fluids; Fluid heating capabilities; and Motor control and sensor monitoring all achieved using LabVIEW. In addition to these criteria the project was also designed to experimentally address whether the measured viscosity varies significantly when the geometry of the viscometer is altered. Materials and Methods In order to achieve the goals of the project the majority of the aspects of the design for the initial prototype were completely overhauled. Aluminum was selected as the primary material for the components as it would meet several of the design criteria including temperature variation, durability, and could be cleaned easily. While aluminum could act as an excellent material for heating and cooling, the overall weight will likely affect the viscometer s testing ability. To compensate for this a supported and rigid design was created (Figure 2.). Figure Prototype utilizing 3D printed components

2 Figure 4. Left: Finished cylinders, Center: gear drive attached to one of the inner cylinders, Right: bearing mounted on outer cylinder Figure 2. Basic SolidWorks Design (inner cylinder(s) not shown) The new design required a much larger motor in order to rotate the heavier cylinders as well as create enough torque for high viscosity fluids. In order to have the motor spin the outer cylinder, a gear drive system was incorporated using a smaller pinion gear on the motor mated up to a larger gear which is affixed to the inner cylinder and the rotary encoder (Figure 4 Center). This allows the motor to drive the inner cylinder as well as obtaining the known RPM value of the rotating cylinder. With the design settled on, materials were ordered and the fabrication phase began. This was one of the longest phases in the project and many hours were spent machining the components (Figure 3). Figure 3. Outer Cylinder construction on lathe After several weeks in the machine shop the fabrication was finished and the fitting of all the sensors and components could take place. Figure 5. SolidWorks Concept and End Product For the viscometer to be able to collect all the necessary data to calculate viscosity, a program, an interface, and sensors were selected. The NI LabVIEW program with NI myrio as the interface was chosen. LabVIEW is a graphical program used for instrumentation purposes. The NI myrio was selected as the interface because the myrio met the requirements needed and the university is in the process of switching out older interfaces for the myrio. It was decided that for the rotational viscometer to be used in the future by professors and students, it needed to be programmed using the myrio as the interface. Sensors were chosen such that they would work with the NI program and interface. Revolutions per minute, temperature, and force had to be measured and monitored by the sensors. A rotary motion encoder, a thermocouple, and a dual range force sensor were the sensors incorporated into the rotational viscometer. The rotary motion encoder uses a built in encoder to measure the amount of clicks it takes the shaft to travel 360 o. In LabVIEW an encoder block can collect the amount of clicks the rotary motion encoder monitors. Then, by multiplying the amount of clicks by the total clicks in one revolution, divided by the run time in seconds, and multiplied by 60 seconds in a minute the RPM of the inner cylinder is calculated by LabVIEW. The temperature of the fluid can be measured using a thermocouple that sends a signal to LabVIEW. LabVIEW reads the incoming signal as a voltage signal and uses a calibration equation for the thermocouple to convert the voltage signal to temperature. The dual range force sensor can measure force readings between ±10 N or

4 Viscosity (Pa*s) Glycerin Published Glycerin Experimental (Medium) Glycerin Experimental (Large) Inverse Absolute Temperature (1/K) Figure 8. Graph of the Viscosity of Glycerin vs. Inverse Absolute Temperature [2] Discussion The initial results of the project are promising. The viscosity data obtained from the variety of fluids that were used suggest that the device is capable of obtaining reliable viscosity values over a range of temperatures. This is most prevalent in the data for glycerin but was also present in some of the other fluids tested. It was also determined that varying the geometry, specifically changing the gap size between the inner and outer cylinder does indeed have an effect on the accuracy and reliability of the data values for viscosity. On average the data values from one gap size to another differed by some constant value. However, the amount of consistent data points throughout a trial fluctuated dramatically depending on which gap size was being used. This is mostly due the change in the amount of torque created from one size cylinder to the next. The smaller cylinder generated very little torque which made for very inconsistent and largely unusable data. The medium and large cylinder both produced ample torque for good data acquisition but the medium cylinder with a gap size of 17.5 mm proved to yield the most reliable and consistent data. Perhaps the large cylinder which creates a 5 mm gap size does not create enough fluid volumetric space for the inner cylinder to move through. This would suggest that there is an ideal gap size for generating the most reliable and accurate viscosity values. Conclusion The majority of the project s goals were accomplished and the capabilities of the device verified. A rotational viscometer was designed and built meeting most or all of the criteria and requirements laid out in planning. The viscometer has been built to be durable and can be cleaned rather quickly. The LabVIEW program is working properly, and is collecting the required data from the sensors on the viscometer. Based upon the data gathered for glycerin, the viscosity data collected varies with changes in the geometry of the viscometer. In order to address this further calibration using multiple fluids should be investigated. Going forward with the design, there are a number of additional things that need to be addressed before the device can be implemented into laboratory use. A more permanent and tamper resistant housing for the myrio interface and wiring needs to be constructed, as well as a clear safety shield over the device when operating. A better solution for monitoring temperature is needed as the current thermocouple gets caught on the rotating cylinder when placed in the fluid. A manual and procedure will need to be created for the device and device operation. It would be helpful if the program could calculate the Reynold s number during tests to ensure the fluid s flow is laminar. Lastly, the viscometer needs to be properly calibrated to guarantee consistent and accurate data values. With these tasks completed the device should produce viscosity values within the acceptable level of accuracy and be entirely ready for lab use. References [1] Viswanath, D., T.K. Ghosh, et al. (2007) Viscosity of Liquids: Theory, Estimation, Experiment, and Data. Springer.

5 [2] Forsythe, W.E.. (1954; 2003). Smithsonian Physical Tables (9th Revised Edition) - Table 318. Viscosity of Organic Liquids. Knovel. [3] Stachowiak, Gwidon W. Batchelor, Andrew W.. (2014). Engineering Tribology (4th Edition) Viscosity Index. Elsevier. [4] Acknowledgments There were a number of people that helped make this project possible. Dr. Maria Carnasciali, for facilitating this project and helping to guide us through the process. Dr. Samuel Daniels, for his technical experience, insight, and enthusiasm. Mr. John Kelley, for his aid in the construction process. Mr. Richard Weber, for his help in all things electrical. Dr. Michelle Berman, for her willingness and eagerness to help supply our test fluid needs. Mr. Mark Morton and Mr. Dan Laudano, for their technical and software support. Biographies Brian Cherrington is a senior in the Mechanical Engineering Department of Tagliatela College of Engineering. His hopes are to move onto a field of work were he can apply his innate talents and interests in hands on applications and learning. Jack Rothstein is a Junior in the Mechanical Engineering Department of Tagliatela College of Engineering. He is from Fair Lawn, New Jersey. He is a member of Pi Tau Sigma the International Mechanical Engineering Honor Society.

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