15 Examples Of Centrifugal Force


Inertia affects Centrifugal Force, which is radially outwards from the parallel axis of rotation that passes through the origin of the coordinate system. It is often called ‘Pseudo’ Force and should not be confused with Reactive Centrifugal Force.

The following examples of Centrifugal Force are witness to its effect in various daily life activities:

Turning of automobile around a curve

Passengers in turning vehicles around curved roads are susceptible to experiencing the effect of centrifugal force.

If a car is carrying a passenger at a steady pace down a straight road, then it is not subject to any acceleration. As a result, Newton’s second law of motion proves that the passenger’s net force is a null set. While the car takes a turn towards the left, the passenger feels an apparent force dragging him towards the right, known as the Centrifugal Force, is a fictitious force.

The unexpected proclivity to accelerate to the car’s right is due to the passenger’s local frame of reference. This tendency must be combated through the appliance of a rightward push (frictional force by seat) to the vehicle, such as a frictional force by the seat. The need for nullifying the effect of this acceleration is to maintain a fixed position within the car.

However the friction of the passenger by the seat looks to be uneven if a stationary spectator watches from an overpass above. According to this observer, a net force is created towards the left, which results in the acceleration of the passenger away from the boundary of the curve (towards inside). This prevents the passenger from continuing to move with the car, rather than in a straight line as he would otherwise. As a result, the “centrifugal force” he perceives results from inertia-induced “centrifugal inclination.”

Stone on a string

When a stone is spun around on a thread in a horizontal plane, gravity operates vertically, and the stone is subjected to a net force that acts toward the center in the horizontal plane.

The stone remains in the same axis as the stone in a frame of reference. The force exerted by the rope, however, continues to act on the stone. Contrary to the Newton’s laws of motion, the stone does not accelerate in the direction of the net applied force. In order to use Newton’s equations of motion in the rotating frame, the centrifugal force and other fictional forces must be added with the fundamental forces.

examples of centrifugal force
Examples of centrifugal force: stone on a string; Image Source: Brews ohareReactive centrifugal force in uniform circular motionCC BY-SA 3.0

Earth

Weight of objects on Earth

The varying weight of an object is witnessed at the equator and the poles of the Earth owing to the effect of the centrifugal force.

When weighing an object on the equator, it is exposed to gravity in one direction and the spring’s equal and opposite restoring force in the other. However, when the Earth rotates, gravity and the spring force do not balance out in the Earth reference frame, inspite of no acceleration. To match the apparent absence of acceleration, the centrifugal force must be introduced to nullify the effect of the net force acting on the body.

When the identical object is weighed with an essential spring balance at the Earth’s poles, it is subjected to the same two actual forces. Because the item is neither moving or accelerating, the net force acting on it is zero. The balance in this example displays only the value of gravity’s force on the item.

Shape of Earth

The shape of the Earth is majorly subject to the centrifugal force acting on it.

The Earth experiences a bulging effect at the equator and flattens at the pole due to centrifugal force. This results in the shape of the Earth resembling that of an orange.

Examples of centrifugal force: Shape of Earth; Image Source: Pajs at Czech WikipediaElipsoid zplostely, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Planetary Orbits

Centrifugal force is experienced by planets circling the sun in our solar system or any other solar system.

The centrifugal force enables these planets to continue their rotational motion and avoid collapsing into the core. All celestial bodies spinning around the sun suffer a substantial degree of this centrifugal force.

This phenomenon is also responsible for evoking the idea of the universe’s expansion and the creation narrative.

Rotation of a bucket full of water

One can easily witness the effect of the centrifugal force while rotating a bucket full of water and trying to prevent any spillage.

The rotation of the bucket of water in a vertical circle at a specific speed utilizes centrifugal force to balance the weight of the water and prevent it from falling outside. The shape of the upper surface of the water contained in the bucket also pertains to a concave structure owing to this centrifugal force.

Examples of centrifugal force: Shape of rotating fluid; Image Source: Matthew Trump (Decumanus at English Wikipedia), Parabola shape in rotating layers of fluidCC BY-SA 3.0

Banking of roads

The roads in the mountainous regions are typical sites of banking, along with spots with steep bends.

When traveling quickly through such areas, a centrifugal force tends to push the car towards the edge of the road. This is exceptionally undesirable since it leads to dangerous situations, including crashes, vehicle crashes, and accidents. The roadways are gently banked on such edges to alleviate this difficulty.

Merry-go-round

A merry-go-round with children on it is a typical sight at children’s playgrounds.

On a merry-go-round ride, youngsters are subjected to an external force that pushes them radially outwards of the ride. The force’s influence becomes more noticeable as the ride’s rotating speed increases. This centrifugal force might cause mishaps if the safety procedures are not followed appropriately.

Washing Machine

Centrifugal force is used in a variety of consumer electrical products, including washing machines.

The machine exhibits a spinning mechanism and uses centrifugal force to push away the clothing, water, and dirt particles towards the drum’s outer side. The pouch on the inner side of the container subsequently gathers the dirt, and the garments are thoroughly cleaned.

Amusement Parks

Gravitron

Centrifugal forces are used in certain amusement attractions, and one commonly witnessed example is the Gravitron.

The Gravitron permits the riders to lift above the ground surface, disregarding the effect of gravity by spinning and pushing them against the wall. This outward force experienced by the riders is the centrifugal force that tends to throw them away from the central axis of rotation.

Swinging Fair Ride

Another commonly found example of centrifugal force in the amusement park is the swinging fair ride.

A cylindrical pole of great height has a giant spinning head mounted on it in a swinging fair amusement. Multiple swings are attached to the base of the spinning head. Upon the rotation of the bottom of the ride, the swings start traveling farther from the center.

This gives the linked swings a stylish and exhilarating action, making for an exciting ride.

Further examples of centrifugal force can be seen in its application in a variety of industrial equipment.

Centrifugal Governor

Centrifugal Governors are in charge of controlling an engine’s speed.

The centrifugal governor utilizes spinning weights that move radially to adjust the throttle with the varying speed of the engine. Centrifugal force produces radial movement in the spinning masses’ reference frame.

Centrifugal Clutch

In small engine-powered equipment like chainsaws, go-karts, and miniature helicopters, a centrifugal clutch is utilized.

Centrifugal Clutch facilitates the initiation of the engine without engaging the drive until the speed of the engine increases. Upon acceleration, the drive undergoes automatic and seamless engagement.

Examples of centrifugal force: Centrifugal Clutch; Image Source: Andy Dingley (scanner), Talbot ‘Traffic Clutch’ automatic centrifugal clutch (Autocar Handbook, 13th ed, 1935), marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

The same concept can be witnessed in drum brake ascenders that utilize inertia during rock climbing. Another example is inertia reels used in many vehicle seat belts. Centrifugal force is being used in these types of equipment to produce artificial gravity.

Centrifugal Casting

Centrifugal casting is another commonly witnessed industrial application of centrifugal force.

Centrifugal casting or spin casting have devoted positive and negative mold areas. The liquid metal or plastic is escalated across the negative region of the mold with the utilization of centrifugal force.

Industrial Centrifuges

Compounds of varied density are separated using centrifuges in research institutions and industries.

The centrifuge machines developed the hydrostatic pressure differential results in significant buoyant forces that push low-density particles inward. The centrifugal force in fluid filled tubes is generated by these devices orthogonal to the rotation axis in the spinning framework of reference.

Examples of centrifugal force: Centrifuge Machine; Image Source: Magnus ManskeTabletop centrifugeCC BY-SA 3.0

The centrifugal force causes elements or particles that are denser than the fluid to flow outward. This develops an analogy of Archimedes’ principle, where gravity is substituted by centrifugal force.

Effect of Centrifugal Force on Human Body

An aircraft and its crew can be subject to various extents of acceleration during a flight maneuver. A curved route causes an airplane to experience centripetal acceleration. Owing to inertia, the aircraft resists this force directed radially towards the center of curvature as per Newton’s First Law of Motion.

The resistance force acts against the centripetal force and is directed away from the center. This pseudo force is known as Centrifugal Force. Had the pilot been a non-living object on the airplane, the centrifugal force would be assumed to push him into his seat and cause physiological consequences.

The consequences of this pseudo force can be divided into three elementary sections:

  • Overall feeling of an apparent increase in body weight.
  • Loss of eyesight, also referred as “blacking-out.”
  • Disorientation and loss of consciousness, which is rare and typically uncommon.

Esha Chakraborty

I have a background in Aerospace Engineering, currently working towards the application of Robotics in the Defense and the Space Science Industry. I am a continuous learner and my passion for creative arts keeps me inclined towards designing novel engineering concepts. With robots substituting almost all human actions in the future, I like to bring to my readers the foundational aspects of the subject in an easy yet informative manner. I also like to keep updated with the advancements in the aerospace industry simultaneously. Connect with me with LinkedIn - http://linkedin.com/in/eshachakraborty93

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