MadSci Network: Physics

Subject: Is there a limit to how high a syphon can stretch and still work?

Date: Thu Oct 27 01:20:59 2005
Posted by David
Grade level: nonaligned School: Fatherhood University (tenth year student)
City: Boston State/Province: MA Country: US
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1130401259.Ph

I understand the basic physics of syphons and how they work, including the
description in MadSci's database.

However, I wonder about extreme cases such as this:

If I use a VERY long siphon tube, then is there a limit (theoretical or
experimental) to how high the syphon tube can stretch (before coming back down)
and still have a functioning syphon?

For example, let's say the water reservoir is one foot above the destination tank.

Would a syphon still work if I used a tube 200 feet long and drew it up 100 feet
then down to the destination tank?  What if I used a tube 1,000 feet long which
rose nearly 500 feet into the sky?

Or, would there be some factor which limits the height of the highest point of
the syphon tube?

I can iamgine that secondary factors might limit this height in a functioning
syphon.  For example, turbulance in the water flow might increase the
"resistance" experienced by the stream of water.

Or, the sheer mass or volume of water which needs to move might approach a
practical limit.

As the syphon goes higher, must the diameter of the tube increase to compensate
for factors dealing with fluid dynamics?

To take this idea to the extreme, could a syphon stretch miles high and into
space, where there is reduced or zero gravitational pull?

Thanks for any comments or feedback: it seems like an interesting, if useless,
idea to explore.

Re: Is there a limit to how high a syphon can stretch and still work?

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