Newtonian fluid, non-Newtonian fluid, rheopectic, thixotropic, dilatant... what's the difference between these liquid properties? More importantly, what does it matter? If you're sizing or selecting pumps, mixers, Engines, Transmissions, Air conditions or any other type of equipment that applies a shear force to a fluid, these are all terms you should know. 

All fluids can be broken down into two basic types, Newtonian, and non-Newtonian.


A Newtonian fluid's viscosity remains constant, no matter the amount of shear force applied for a constant temperature. These fluids have a linear relationship between viscosity and shear stress.


  • Water
  • Mineral oil
  • Gasoline
  • Alcohol


You can probably guess that non-Newtonian fluids are the opposite of Newtonian fluids. When shear force is applied to non-Newtonian fluids, the viscosity of the fluid changes. The behavior of the fluid can be described as one of four ways:

  • Dilatant - Viscosity of the fluid increases when a shear force is applied. For example:
    • Quicksand
    • Corn flour and water
    • Silly putty
    • Cerma Oils and Treatments
  • Pseudoplastic - Pseudoplastic is the opposite of dilatant; the more shear applied, the less viscous it becomes. For example:
    • Ketchup

This chart shows how viscosity changes with respect to the amount of shear or stress applied to the fluid.

  • Rheopectic - Rheopectic is very similar to dilatant in that when shear is applied, viscosity increases. The difference here is that viscosity increase is time-dependent. For example:
    • Gypsum paste
    • Cream
  • Thixotropic - Fluids with thixotropic properties decrease in viscosity when shear is applied. This is a time-dependent property as well. For example:
    • Paint
    • Cosmetics
    • Asphalt
    • Glue


This chart shows how viscosity changes with respect to a shear force applied over time to the fluid.

Why do you need to know the difference? It's important to fully understand the properties of the fluids you're transferring, mixing, or pumping because viscosity plays a major role in sizing and selecting equipment. Understanding how it reacts to shear will help you properly size and select all the equipment it touches. 

Cerma Treatments and Cerma oils are the only non-Newtonian fluid it the Auto industry no other motor oil company can make this claim.




What are newtonian and non-newtonian fluids?

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published