Entropy and entropy generation are abstract and illusive concepts for undergraduate students. In general, students find it difficult to visualize entropy generation in real (irreversible) processes, especially at a mechanistic level. Fluid mechanics laboratory can assist students in making the concepts of entropy and entropy generation more tangible. In flow of real fluids, dissipation of mechanical energy takes place due to friction in fluids. The dissipation of mechanical energy in pipeline flow is reflected in loss of pressure of fluid. The degradation of high quality mechanical energy into low quality frictional heat (internal energy) is simultaneously reflected in the generation of entropy. Thus, experiments involving measurements of pressure gradient as a function of flow rate in pipes offer an opportunity for students to visualize and quantify entropy generation in real processes. In this article, the background in fluid mechanics and thermodynamics relevant to the concepts of mechanical energy dissipation, entropy and entropy generation are reviewed briefly. The link between entropy generation and mechanical energy dissipation in pipe flow experiments is demonstrated both theoretically and experimentally. The rate of entropy generation in pipeline flow of Newtonian fluids is quantified through measurements of pressure gradient as a function of flow rate for a number of test fluids. The factors affecting the rate of entropy generation in pipeline flows are discussed.
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