There has been some amount of confusion over the origin of electrohydrodynamic phenomena responsible for the actuation of dielectric fluids in the presence of an electric field. Previous studies have accounted for the possibility of conduction pumping, ion drag pumping and induction pumping as driving mechanisms but have ignored the possibility of Maxwell (electric) pressure driven flow. Until recently, this mechanism has been poorly understood and as a result has often been overlooked. This paper demonstrates how a Maxwell pressure gradient can induce flow in dielectric liquids in the presence of a non-uniform field. We derive, from first principles using lubrication theory, an expression for the flow velocity which exhibits a quadratic dependence on the applied voltage and also proportionality to the ratio of the permittivity and viscosity. The theoretical predictions are supported by experimental results. Although we have examined the phenomenon for a particular class of dielectric liquids, it is believed that this mechanism could well be responsible for the actuation of other low conductivity dielectric fluids previously attributed to conduction or ion drag pumping. In any case, we discuss ways to identify the dominant mechanism by comparing the salient features for a given type of flow.

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