Carburetors and Venturi Tubes: Thank You Giovanni Battista Venturi

I know it has been a little while since I blogged about something with a motor so it should be no surprise that this one ties to something with a combustion chamber. This all starts with an Italian physicist, Giovanni Battista Venturi. His career was as a historian of science and a professor at the University of Modena. He gave Leonardo da Vinci’s creations a different perspective by crediting da Vinci to be a scientist with many of his creations rather than just an amazing artist. He then began to study fluid flow through tubes. This study became known as the Venturi Tube. The first patents in 1888 came to fruition long after Giovanni passed away. So what was this Venturi effect and how does it tie in to carburetors let alone compressed air?

The illustration below showcases the Venturi effect of a fluid within a pipe that has a constriction. The principle states that a fluid’s velocity must increase as it passes through a constricted pipe. As this occurs, the velocity increases while the static pressure decreases. The pressure drop that accompanies the increase in velocity is fundamental to the laws of physics. This is another principle we like to discuss known as Bernoulli’s principle.

1 – Venturi

Some of the first patents using Venturi’s began to appear in 1888. One of the key inventors for this was Karl Benz who founded Mercedes. This is how the Venturi principle ties into combustion engines for those that do not know the history. This patent is one of many that came out referencing the Venturi principle and carburetors. The carburetors can vary considerably in the complexity of their design. Many of the units all have a pipe that narrows in the center and expands back out, thus causing the pressure to fall and the velocity to increase. Yes, I just described a Venturi, this effect is what causes the fuel to be drawn into the carburetor. The higher velocity on the input (due to this narrowing restriction) results in higher volumes of fuel which results in higher engine rpms. The image below showcases Benz’s first patent using the Venturi.

2 – Venturi Patent

While carburetors slowly disappear and now can mainly be found in small engines such as weed eaters, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers, the Venturi principle continues to be found in industry and other items. Needless to say, I think Giovanni Battista Venturi would be proud of his findings and understanding how monumental they have been for technological advancements. For this, we will recognize the upcoming day of his passing 199 years ago on April 24, 1822.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

1 – Thierry Dugnolle, CC0, Venturi.gif, retrieved via Wikimedia Commons

2 – United States Patent and Trademark Office – Benz, Karl, Carburetor – Retrieved from,585.PN.%2526OS%3DPN%2F0382,585%2526RS%3DPN%2F0382,585&PageNum=&Rtype=&SectionNum=&idkey=NONE&Input=View+first+page

A (Sample) Lexicon For Compressed Air

Every industry and different technical subject matter comes with it’s own lexicon of terms or vocabulary words.  More often than not, when speaking to an Application Engineer here at EXAIR you are going to hear words within our lexicon. The list I have compiled below is merely a sampling to help translate some terms that we forget not everyone knows.  Some of these are merely acronyms that get thrown around a good amount.

SCFM – Standard Cubic Feet per Minute – This is the unit we use to represent the volumetric flow rate of compressed gas that has already been corrected to standardized conditions of pressure and temperature.

PSIG – Pounds per square inch gauge – This is the unit which we use to represent the operating inlet pressure of the device.  When requesting this, we generally are looking for a pressure gauge to be installed directly on the inlet to the device with no other form of restrictions between the two.  For the most part, catalog consumption values are given in SCFM at 80 psig.  The main exception to that rule are the Vortex Tube based products.

Compressed Air – This is a utility that most industrial manufacturing facilities have available to them.   It is regular, atmospheric air which has been compressed by an air compressor to a higher pressure than atmospheric.  Generally speaking, compressed air systems will be at a range of 85-120 psig.

OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration – This is the main federal agency that enforces two of the major conformance standards that EXAIR products meet or exceed.

29 CFR- 1910.95 (a) – Maximum allowable noise level exposure.  The great majority of EXAIR products meet or exceed this safety standard, our largest Super Air Nozzles
1910.242 (b) – This is the standard which states compressed air blow off devices cannot exceed 30 psig of dead end pressure.  This means, if the exit point of the air can be blocked the operating pressure must be below 30 psig.  The reason for this standard is to prevent air embolism which can be fatal.  All EXAIR products meet or exceed this standard by having multiple orifice discharge.

Coanda Effect – This is the effect that numerous EXAIR products utilize to amplify and entrain ambient air.   The Coanda effect is when a fluid jet (stream of compressed air) tends to be attracted to a nearby surface.  This principle was found by a Romanian aerodynamics pioneer, Henri Coandᾰ.  The picture below shows a Super Air Amplifier blowing a foam ball into the air and suspending it due to the Coanda effect on the surface of the ball.

A Super Air Amplifier's air stream causes a foam ball to be suspended in mid air thanks to the Coandᾰ effect.
A Super Air Amplifier’s air stream causes a foam ball to be suspended in mid air thanks to the Coandᾰ effect.

Rigid Pipe or Hard Pipe – This is the term we will often use when discussing the compressed air line that can be used to support and supply certain EXAIR products.  Generally we are referring to a Schedule 40 steel pipe, Type L copper line, stainless steel tube, or any form of pressure rated hard pipe that can be used for supplying compressed air.

Plenum – the state or a space in which a gas, usually air, is contained at pressure greater than atmospheric pressure. Many of our products feature a plenum chamber. 

Again, this list is only a sample of the terminology you will hear us use when discussing compressed air applications.  If there are any other air/compressed air/fluid dynamic terms you may be unsure of, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager