Friction Factor for Turbulent Pipe Flow

By Achanta Ramakrishna Rao1 and Bimlesh Kumar2

Abstract: Present paper proposes a universal resistance equation relating friction factor (λ), the Reynolds number (R) and roughness height (k) for the entire range of turbulent flow in pipes covering all the three regimes: smooth, transition and rough. Experimental data of Nikuradse and others were used. Such an equation is found to be sufficient to predict the friction factor for all ranges of R (≥4000) and different values of k. Present model is found to be equally valid for both cases of commercially available pipes and Nikuradse experiments on sand roughened pipes.

INTRODUCTION The head loss (hf) due to friction undergone by a fluid motion in a pipe is usually calculated through the Darcy-Weisbach relation as;

hf =λ

L u2 D 2g

(1)

In this Eq. (1) λ is the or Darcy friction factor, L is the characteristics length of the pipe, D is the diameter of the pipe, u is the velocity of the flow of liquid and g is the acceleration due to the gravity. The friction factor (λ ) is a measure of the shear stress (or shear force per unit area) that the turbulent flow exerts on the wall of a pipe; it is

1 2

Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IISc, Bangalore-560012, India. Research Scholar, Department of Civil Engineering, IISc, Bangalore-560012, India.

k/D. and calculated from the well-known Hagen-Poiseuille equation: λ= 64 R (2) Where. the flow can be considered as in smooth regime (there is no effect of roughness). The general behavior of turbulent pipe flow in the presence of surface roughness is well established. τ is the shear stress. Whereas. k/D→0. is defined as ūD/ν. λ depends only on R. R ≤ 2100). When k/D is of a significant value. the friction factor. in turbulent flow (R≥ 4000). When k is very small compared to the pipe diameter D i. where. the friction factor is linearly dependent on R. In this case. the friction factor λ is a function of R and is independent of the effect of k on the flow.customarily expressed in dimensionless form as λ = τ/ρū2. the flow eventually reaches a fully rough regime in which λ is independent of R. at low R. the flow becomes transitionally rough. ρ is the density of the liquid that flows in the pipe and ū the mean velocity of the flow. where.e. Nikuradse (1933) had verified the Prandtl’s mixing length theory and proposed the following universal resistance equation for fully developed turbulent flow in smooth pipe. called as transition regime in which the friction factor rises above the smooth value and is a function of both k and R and as R increases more and more. R. . As R increases. the Reynolds number. λ depends upon the Reynolds number (R) and on the relative roughness of the pipe. k is the average roughness height of the pipe. the viscous sub layer completely submerges the effect of k on the flow. For laminar flow (Reynolds number. In a smooth pipe flow.

Eq. Moody (1944) presented a friction diagram for commercial pipe friction factors based on the Colebrook–White equation.74 λ ⎝k⎠ (4) For transition regime in which the friction factor varies with both R and k/D. the equation universally adopted is due to Colebrook and White (1937) proposed the following equation. The following form of the equation is first derived by Von Karman (Schlichting. 1 ⎛D⎞ = 2 log ⎜ ⎟ + 1. 1979) and later supported by Nikuradse’s experiments.8 ( ) (3) In case of rough pipe flow. Because of Moody’s work and the demonstrated applicability of Colebrook-White equation over a wide range of Reynolds numbers and relative roughness value k/D. (4) for rough pipes. (5) has become the accepted standard for .7065 + ⎟ λ R λ ⎠ ⎝ (5) Equation (5) covers not only the transition region but also the fully developed smooth and rough pipes. Eq.1 λ = 2 log R λ − 0. which has been extensively used for practical applications. (5) becomes Eq. the viscous sub layer thickness is very small when compared to roughness height and thus the flow is dominated by the roughness of the pipe wall and λ is the function only of k/D and is independent of R. (5) reduces to Eq. Eq. (3) for smooth pipes and as R→∞.5226 ⎞ = − 2 log ⎜ ⎟ ⎜ 3. By putting k→ 0. 1 ⎛ k D 2.

Von Bernuth and Wilson (1989) conducted laboratory experiments and attempted to find the optimum value of the roughness height of PVC pipes for the Colebrook–White equation and then the value of the friction factor of PVC pipes.5 mm. Their computation results were. girthriveted. several researchers have found that the Colebrook–White equation is inadequate for pipes smaller than 2. they tend to be less universally accepted. however. Bureau of Reclamation (1965) reported large amounts of field data on commercial pipes: concrete. Moreover. from being an implicit equation in λ and thus requires an iterative solution. Wesseling and Homma (1967) suggested using a Blasius-type equation or a power law with minor modifications instead of the Colebrook–White equation. since the variation of the data followed the curve of transitional turbulent flow which is omitted in the composition of the Colebrook–White equation. The researchers of the Bureau of Reclamation (1965) found that some of the field data collected could not be explained by the Colebrook–White equation. Since the mid-1970s. It suffers. They recommended using larger values of the proportionality factor for smaller-size pipes. however. quite different from those obtained in the laboratory when using the Colebrook–White equation.calculating the friction factors. Instead they proposed to employ a Blasiustype equation with minor modifications.S. These equations give a reasonable approximation. many alternative explicit equations have been developed to avoid the iterative process inherent to the Colebrook. continuous-interior. Due to large variations in the field data. The friction factor determined from laboratory . The Bureau of Reclamation report (1965) asserted that the Colebrook–White equation was found inadequate over a wide range of flow conditions. and full-riveted steel pipes. however. The U. average friction factors were used for simplicity.White equation.

data decreases with an increase in the Reynolds number even after a certain critical value. ‘a’ and ‘b’ are constants. u is the velocity at a distance y measured from the pipe wall. i.. whereas the friction factor of the Colebrook–White equation tends to be constant with an increase in the Reynolds number. As seen from the Eqs. u* is the friction velocity. Zagarola (1996) has indicated that the Prandtl’s law of flow in smooth pipes was not accurate for high Reynolds numbers and the ColebrookWhite correlation (which was based on the Prandtl’s law of flow) is not accurate at high Reynolds numbers. the characteristic length l for non-dimensionalising the depth y is ν/u* for smooth turbulent flows and k for rough turbulent flows. yu ν u = A ln * u* a y k u = A ln b u* For smooth pipes and (6) For rough pipes (7) Where ‘A’. smooth to rough turbulent flows.e. Motivation has thus existed for attempting to develop a universal resistance equation covering the entire ranges of turbulent flows. PROPOSED MODEL The established laws of velocity distribution for turbulent flows are given by. 6 and 7. which can be applicable to all the ranges of R and for all values of k/D. So it is proposed that l is actually a linear combination of both (ν/u* and k) with a correction . k is the roughness height and n is the kinematic viscosity of the fluid.

R* is the friction Reynolds number and defined equal to ku*/ν. At R*→0. Thus the resistance equation for pipes covering the smooth. Thus l =( a ν u* + bk )φ ( R* ) (8) Where. the second term becomes important allowing the neglect of the first term.. From the relation λ = 8(u*/ū) 2. 1 ⎛r k⎞ = 2 log ⎜ ⎜B ⎟ ⎟ λ ⎝ * ⎠ (10) . Eq. pipe is said to be in smooth condition and for rough pipe R*→∞. smooth. Eq. 9 reduces to Eqs. if a condition that φ ( R* ) =1 for both when R*→0 and ∞ is imposed.factor.e. 6 and 7 respectively. So also for small values of ν/u*. 9 can be converted into the equation for the friction factor covering the whole ranges of turbulent flows. Thus the velocity laws covering all the regions can be summarized as. For large values of ν/u* the term aν/u* dominates making the second term bk negligible in comparison with it. u = A ln u* y (a ν u* ⇒ A ln ( y k a + b )φ ( R* ) R* (9) + bk )φ ( R* ) Now. covering the all ranges i. transition and rough regimes of turbulent flows. transition and rough regimes can be expressed as.

φ ( R* ⎡ ⎛ R ⎞⎤ − 0.33 ⎢ln⎜ * ⎟ ⎥ ⎣ ⎝ 6.1 0.1 1 10 100 1000 10000 R* Figure 1: Validation of the proposed model .55e 2 (12) The validity of the expression for B* along with φ(R*) is shown in Figure 1 by using the Nikuradse’s experimental data.01 0.444 and b= 0.⎡ a + bR* ⎤ Where.6 r / k =15 φ( 1 ) R* B* 0. B* = ⎢ ⎥Φ ( R* ) ⎣ R* ⎦ (11) By analyzing Nikuradse’s data on pressure drop measurements in sand roughened pipes. the following values of a = 0.135 has been found and Φ(R*) is given by. 10 Nikuradse's Experimental data r / k =507 r / k =252 r / k =126 r / k =60 r / k =30.5 ⎠ ⎦ ) = 1 − 0.

065 0.055 0. Thus a universal resistance equation is developed in the form of Eq.060 0. 2004).045 r / k =15.010 10 10 10 10 R Figure 2: Friction factor diagram The resistance equation. resistance equation is also plotted for the most recent experimental pipe friction data on smooth pipes (McKeon et al.6 60 126 252 507 Turbulent Flow 3 4 5 6 λ 0.. Nikuradse's Experimental data r / k =507 r / k =252 r / k =126 r / k =60 r / k =30. 10 satisfactorily fits the entire data of Nikuradse on sand roughened pipes for varying relative roughness heights.030 0.020 0. . (10). In addition to Nikuradse’s experimental data.0 30.040 0.015 0. 2004 0.6 r / k =15 McKeon et al. as given by Eq.035 0.The friction diagram based on Nikuradse’s experimental data on the sand roughened pipe is shown in Figure 2.050 0.025 0.

8981 ⎟⎥ ⎜ 2.7065 D R ⎢ λ R ⎠⎦ ⎝ ⎣ (16) .00004 and 0.REVIEW OF EQUATIONS ON FRICTION FACTOR During the past years since Moody’s chart.8506 ⎞⎤ k 5. the most promising equations on friction factor have appeared as follows: 1.9)]16 and B = (37530/R)16.25 ⎡ ⎛ k 5. b = 88(k/D) 0. (13) 2.44 and C =1. Churchill (1977): The author claimed that his equation holds for all R and k/D and has the following form: ⎛ ⎛ 8 ⎞12 λ = 8⎜ ⎜ ⎟ + ( A + B )− 3 ⎜⎝ R ⎠ ⎝ 2⎟ ⎞ ⎟ ⎠ 1 12 (15) Where A = [-2log(((k/D)/3.05 as: λ= 0.62(k/D) 0. Chen (1979): He also proposed equation for friction factor covering all the ranges of R and k/D.134. 1 ⎡ ⎛ 1 ⎛ k ⎞1.225.094 (k/D) 0.7)+(7/R)0.8257 ⎝ D ⎠ 3.0452 ⎟⎥ log ⎜ = − 2 log ⎢ − + ⎜ ⎟ 0.53(k/D) +0.1098 5.04. 4.9 ⎟⎥ ⎜ ⎟ ⎣ ⎝ D R ⎠⎦ 2 (14) 3. Swamee and Jain (1976): They proposed the equation covering the range of R from 5000 to 107 and the values of k/D between 0. Wood (1966): It is valid for R > 10000 and 10-5 < ε/D< 0.74 ⎞⎤ ⎢log ⎜ + 0. λ = a + b R −c Where a = 0.

02 ⎛ k = − 2 log ⎢ − log ⎜ ⎟ ⎜ 3.9 ⎤ ⎥ + = − 1.27 + ⎟ D R ⎠ λ ⎝ (17) 6. Zigrang and Sylvester (1982): They proposed the following equation: 1 ⎡ k ⎛ 1 ⎛ k ⎞ 5. .02 13 ⎞ ⎞⎤ 5.11 6. Barr (1981): He proposed the equation as: ⎛ ⎜ ⎜ 1 k = − 2 log ⎜ + ⎜ 3.52 ⎛ k ⎞ ⎟ ⎟ R R⎜ 1 + ⎜ ⎟ ⎜ 29 ⎝ D⎠ ⎟⎟ ⎝ ⎠⎠ ⎛1 ⎞ 4. Round (1980): He proposed the equation in the following form: 1 k 6. Manadilli (1997): He proposed the following expressions valid for R ranging from 5235 to 108 and for any value of k/D.8 log ⎢⎜ ⎟ R⎥ λ ⎢⎝ 3.7 ⎜ D ⎟ − R log ⎜ 3. Haaland (1983): He proposed a variation in the effect of the relative roughness by the following expression: 1 ⎡⎛ k ⎞1.7 D λ ⎜ ⎜ ⎝ ⎞ ⎟ ⎟ ⎟ 0.7 D ⎠ ⎣ ⎦ (20) 9.7 ⎞ ⎟ ⎛ 1 0.7 D + R ⎟ ⎟⎥ R λ ⎠ ⎠⎦ ⎝ ⎝ ⎠ ⎝ ⎣ 3.5.518 log ⎜ R ⎟ ⎝7 ⎠ (18) 7.8 log ⎜ 0.5 ⎞ ⎛ = − 1.7 D (19) 8.

As shown in Figure 3.567 ⎜ ⎟⎟ Where. More accuracy can be achieved by using a large number of internal substitutions to the Colebrook-White formula. By making correction factor φ(R*) =1. A = log log ⎜ ⎜ − +⎜ ⎟ ⎟ ⎜ 3. because of their difference in roughness factor.1 ⎛ k 95 96. Colebrook –White formula is for irregular surface roughness in pipes resulting from the manufacturing process.9345 ⎞ ⎞ 4.3326 ⎞ 0. comparison are made for prediction of λ over a wide range of k/D by Eq.983 − R ⎟ λ R ⎠ ⎝ (21) 10. Romeo et al. Present model is equally valid for commercial pipes and sand roughened pipes. (10) and Colebrook-white formula. present model predicts approximately the same λ as predicted by Colebrook-white . thus a new explicit formula for calculating the friction factor.7065 D ⎦ (22) ⎛ k ⎛ ⎛ k D ⎞ 0.815 + R ⎠ ⎝ ⎠⎠ ⎝ DISCUSSIONS The correlations/friction factor relations shown in the literature have been developed by applying the successive substitution method to the Colebrook-White formula. As discussed.7918 ⎠ ⎟⎟ R ⎝ 208.82 ⎞ = − 2 log ⎜ ⎟ ⎜ 3.9924 ⎛ 5.0272 ⎤ ⎡ = − 2 log ⎢ − A⎥ R λ ⎣ 3. Colebrook-White formula deviates from Nikuradse experimental results in transition range. (2002): They proposed the equation as: 1 k 5.827 D ⎜ ⎝ 7.7 D + 0.

making the present model acceptable for commercial pipes.10 0. CW-Colebrook-White formula) 0.08 0.14 1000000 1E7 1E8 R Figure 4 Percentage of error in the estimation of λ with Colebrook-White formula . 0.03 0.05 k/D =0.06 0.11 0.04 Average % Error line m m Max = 0.06 -0.12 -0.05 CW CW CW CW k/D = 0.04 -0.02 0.08 λ 0.02 0.10 -0.005 k/D = 0.05 0. the error ranges from -0.0005 k/D = 0.005 k/D =0.06 0.04 0. Figure 4 gives the percentage error in prediction of the friction factor by the present model.12292 to 0.07 0.01 10000 100000 PM PM PM PM k/D =0.00005 k/D = 0.00005 1000000 1E7 1E8 R Figure 3 Prediction for commercial pipe (PM –present model.04884 and Min = -0.0005 k/D =0.12292 100 (λCW-λPM) -----------------λPM 0. As shown.00 -0.08 -0.09 0.formula.04884%.02 -0.

06 (k/D)0.849 C Rh0.54.08. being empirical.1 microns 23. (5) and Hazen-Williams formula.01 ν0. hydraulic gradient Note: Kinematic Viscosity is assumed as. Eq. k/D. ν.63 S0. where. 1998).54 R0. is implying that C is a function of R. C is also found to be dependent on pipe diameter (Liou. (1). C can be interpreted as C = 14. discharge = hf /L. Rh is the hydraulic radius of the pipe and S is the slope) to characterize the roughness of the pipe’s inner surface. the Hazen-Williams equation is not dimensionally homogeneous and its ranges of applicability is limited (Liou. However.1 microns = λ. In most cases. ν = 10 m /s -6 2 Hazen-Williams. By making use of Eq. discharge and hydraulic gradient) Relationship Between Hazen Williams C and Hydraulic Parameters Figure 4 Variations in C .01 k-0. friction factor = U m/s. hydraulic engineers use the HazenWilliams formula (V=0.07 λ-0. and kinematic viscosity. 1998). 200 190 180 Roughness Height.APPLICATION OF THE PROPOSED MODEL Estimation of head losses due to friction in pipes is an important task in optimization studies and hydraulic analysis of pipelines and water distribution systems. average velocity. average velocity 3 = Q m /s. k 7. It is vital in new pipeline design to have a good estimate of flow capacity as the larger part of the economics will be dependent on this. C 170 160 150 140 130 120 -8 10 10 -7 10 -6 1x10 -5 1x10 -4 10 -3 10 -2 10 -1 10 0 10 1 10 2 10 3 Hydraulic Parameter (friction factor. C is the Hazen-Williams constant. k.

Colebrook. 3.”. “Experiments with Fluid friction roughened pipes. Vol. As discussed. 2. Inst. Fundam.IS-SP35:1987 (Handbook on water supply and Drainage with Special Emphasis on Plumbing) gives the values of Hazen-Williams constant ‘C’ in some ranges for different types of pipe materials.”. 18. “Friction factor equations spans all fluid-flow ranges. Chem. 71. Engrs. 161.1981. Part 2..I. it is 130. an improved version of equation on friction factor covering the whole turbulent flow range flow has been presented.. “An Explicit Equation for Friction factor in Pipe”. C.. Proc. 1979.Soc. S.1937. .M.”. Eng. Ind.H.(A). 3. 296-297. Chem. Eng. the recommended value of C is 130 and for design purpose. Churchill. No. R. Civil. As shown in Figure 4.H. Barr.W.Proc. C. Chen.e. for cast iron new pipe.. D. and White. 91. Reference: 1.F. this can be used as an alternative of Hazen-Williams formula in designing the pipeline.. N. i. “Solutions of the Colebrook-White functions for resistance to uniform turbulent flows. assuming C as constant is hazardous. 4. proposed model predicts reasonably well in the entire turbulent ranges of pipe flow and equally valid in case of commercial pipes as well as sand roughened pipes...1977. CONCLUSION Based on the Nikuradse’s experimental data.

” Ver. 951-954. 11.. “Replace implicit equations with sigmoidal functions. Donnelly. Chem. and Smits. Dtsch. 58.. A. 7. Chem. Moody. Journal.122-123.. Hydr. Nikuradse.’’ Chem. 14. Trans. Swanson.. and Jain. 2002. D.”.S. P. 1997.”. J. Manadilli. Vol. Haaland. Dept. Forsch. Romeo. 1976.”.. “Limiations and proper use of the Hazen-Williams equations. 86. Div. 657-664. G.. ASME. “Friction factors for pipe flows. J. Liou.. “Stroemungsgesetze in rauhen Rohren.K. M. 12. 1998. 13. L. A. 104(8)... 1983.F. Eng. E.E. 124(9). J. C. Trans. J. “Friction factors for large conduit flowing full. 361. B. C..J. G.”.. Ing. Schlichting.541. “Simple and Explicit formulas for friction factor in turbulent pipe flow. Swamee. 15. 8. Eng. 66..1980. 41-44. “Boundary-Layer Theory” . 102(5).F.Fluid Mechanics. J.641. ASME.C. ASCE. A. 1965.”. R. S.”. Can. 1933. of Interior. Royo. “Friction factors for smooth pipe flow. New York. Zagarola.S. 105. U. Eng.Eng.. 6.. Bureau of Reclamation. Hydr. U.. 1979. McKeon.. JFE.1944.”. C.V.. 2004.. 10. ‘‘Improved explicit equations for estimation of the friction factor in rough and smooth pipes. .McGraw–Hill.J..K. J. and Monzon. No. “An explicit approximation for the friction factor-Reynolds number relation for rough and smooth pipes.. 7. 9.P.J. Round. 369–374. H.. Washington.” Engineering Monograph. “Explicit equation for pipe flow problems..5.J.

R* = Particle Reynolds number. Hydraul. ν = Kinematic viscosity. u* = Shear velocity. Wesseling. USA. Zigrang. Eng. “Explicit approximations to the Colebrook’s friction factor. and Homma. and Wilson.. “An Explicit friction factor relationship. 15. R... R = Reynolds number. hf = Head loss.J. Sci. D. B* = Function of R*. 514.’’ Ph. 20. D. Princeton University. 17. Von Bernuth. 19. Zagarola. ‘‘Mean-flow Scaling of Turbulent Pipe Flow. D = Pipe diameter.”. and Sylvester.1966. N. M.16. T. NOTATION C = Hazen-Williams Constant. V. AICHE J. 115(2). J. 1982. τ = Shear stress.thesis.. k = Roughness height. 3.” J.. “Hydraulic resistance of drain pipes.J. Civil Eng. u = Velocity of the flow. 60-61.D. D. 1967.” Neth. F. f = Friction factor..D... J.. 183–197. 18. g = Acceleration due to gravity. 1996. 28. L = Characteristics length of the pipe.”. Rh = Hydraulic radius of the pipe.. Agric. 183–192. r = Pipe radius. Wood. ū = Mean velocity of the flow. . 1989. “Friction factors for small diameter plastic pipes.