What is Gauge Pressure, Absolute Pressure and Atmospheric Pressure

Difference between gauge pressure, atmospheric pressure and absolute pressure.


While working in a system, the thermodynamic medium exerts a force on boundaries of the vessel in which it is contained. The vessel may be a container, or an engine cylinder with a piston etc. The exerted force F per unit area A on a surface, which is normal to the force, is called intensity of pressure or simply pressure p.


P = F/A= ρ.g.h
It is expressed in Pascal (1 Pa = 1 Nm²),
Standard atmosphere (1 atm =1.0132 bar),

The pressure is generally represented in following terms.
  1. Atmospheric pressure
  2. Gauge pressure
  3. Vacuum (or vacuum pressure)
  4. Absolute pressure
Atmospheric Pressure (Patm):
It is the pressure exerted by atmospheric air on any surface. It is measured by a barometer. Its standard values are;
1 Patm = 760 mm of Hg i.e. column or height of mercury
= ρ.g.h. = 13.6 × 10³ × 9.81 × 760/1000
= 101.325 kN/m² = 101.325 kPa
= 1.01325 bar
when the density of mercury is taken as 13.595 kg/m³ and acceleration due to gravity as 9.8066 m/s²

Gauge Pressure (Pgauge):
It is the pressure of a fluid contained in a closed vessel. It is always more than atmospheric pressure. It is measured by an instrument called pressure gauge (such as Bourdon’s pressure gauge). The gauge measures pressure of the fluid (liquid and gas) flowing through a pipe or duct, boiler etc. irrespective of prevailing atmospheric pressure.

Vacuum (Or Vacuum pressure) (Pvacc):
It is the pressure of a fluid, which is always less than atmospheric pressure. Pressure (i.e. vacuum) in a steam condenser is one such example. It is also measured by a pressure gauge but the gauge reads on negative side of atmospheric pressure on dial. The vacuum represents a difference between absolute and atmospheric pressures.

Absolute Pressure (Pabs):
It is that pressure of a fluid, which is measured with respect to absolute zero pressure as the reference. Absolute zero pressure can occur only if the molecular momentum is zero, and this condition arises when there is a perfect vacuum. Absolute pressure of a fluid may be more or less than atmospheric depending upon, whether the gauge pressure is expressed as absolute pressure or the vacuum pressure.

Relation Between Gauge ,Absolute and Atmospheric Pressure

Difference between Gauge ,absolute and atmospheric pressure
Difference between Gauge ,absolute and atmospheric pressure

Inter–relation between different types of pressure representations. It is depicted in Fig, which can be expressed as follows.
Pabs = Patm + Pgauge
Pabs = Patm – Pvace

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