o 2
) (
2
=
(Eq.1)
Here,
q
s
= heat flux at gas/solid interface (W/m
2
)
k = thermal conductivity of gas (W/mK)
= dynamic viscosity of gas (Pa.s)
T
s
= Temperature of the solid surface (K)
T
e
= gas temperature at the edge of the boundary layer (K)
u
e
= gas velocity at boundary layer edge (m/s)
o
thermal
= thickness of (thermal) boundary layer (m)
(NOTE: Prandtl number Pr of the order 1, so that the
thicknesses of the velocity and thermal boundary layers are
approximately equal.)
The first term in Eq. 1 is the conduction heat transfer across
a slab of thickness o
thermal
, and the second term gives the
contribution of viscous dissipation to the heat flux.
Figure 2 Couette flow model [9]
The corresponding temperature profile across the thermal
boundary layer is given by
(
(


.

\

thermal e s
e
thermal e s
s
y
T T k
u y
T T
T T
o
o
1
) ( 2
1
2
(Eq. 2)
The shape of the temperature profile (Figure 3) is dictated
by the dimensionless parameter u
e
2
/(k(T
s
T
e
)), a combination
of the Eckert number and the Prandtl number (also called the
Brinkman number Br = 2 Ec Pr). The greater the contribution
of the second term, the greater is the frictional dissipation
within the boundary layer.
For sufficiently high values of the Eckert number (Ec >
~1), or the Brinkman number (Br > ~2), frictional dissipation
within the boundary layer may be strong enough to cause a heat
transfer reversal at the wall. Even if there is no actual heat
transfer reversal, it can be seen that frictional dissipation drives
the slope of the temperature profile at the wall towards zero,
corresponding to the adiabatic wall condition. The overall
effect is that the wall does not see the free stream fluid
temperature T
e
, but a higher temperature. The temperature
difference that drives the heat transfer at the wall is thus
reduced, and so is the heat transfer from the wall.
Figure 3 Temperature profile across boundary layer
The heat transfer q between the gas (temperature T
gas
) and
the pipe wall (temperature T
pipe
) is determined by the difference
in temperature between the pipe wall and the flowing gas:
( )
gas pipe
T T A h q =
(Eq. 3)
Here h is the coefficient of (convective) heat transfer,
whose magnitude is determined by the condition of the flow
(laminar/turbulent, incompressible/compressible, etc), and A is
the area across which the heat transfer occurs. Conventionally,
h is nondimensionalized as the Nusselt number Nu
L
= h/(kL),
where k is the thermal conductivity of the gas and L an
appropriate length scale.
Based on dimensional analysis [9], it can be shown that, in
high speed (compressible) flows,
( ) Pr Pr, , Re Ec f Nu
L L
=
(Eq. 4)
The term EcPr is a measure of the frictional dissipation.
In case of the decompression wave, an analysis of the
details of the highly complex transient flow is virtually
impossible by conventional mathematical techniques. However,
developments in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)
techniques hold the promise that this flow can be analyzed by
numerically, and that useful information can be extracted from
such an analysis.
If it can be demonstrated from such an analysis that during
pipeline decompression, the value of the Eckert number
approaches 1 or exceeds it, this will establish the significance of
the Eckert number and its effect of heat transfer from the pipe
wall during such events.
4 Copyright 2012 by ASME
2D CFD STUDIES
Taking advantage of the axial symmetry of the physical
flow domain, a 2dimensional computational domain was
constructed (Figure 4). A number of twodimensional transient
simulations of the flow with conjugate heat transfer were
carried out to gauge the effect of the initial conditions (pressure,
temperature) of the gas.
Figure 4 2D computational mesh detail
The working fluid was assumed to be dry air behaving as an
ideal gas with temperaturedependent properties. The physical
domain modelled was a DN50 steel pipe (ID 52.5 mm, OD 60.3
mm), and 5 m long. These particular dimensions were chosen
to conform to the experimental arrangement as originally
proposed. A total of 15 combinations of initial pressure and
temperature were assumed: initial pressure 10, 20, 50, 100 and
150 bar gauge, and initial temperature 20C, 10C and 0C.
Each simulation was carried out over a time period of 5 ms,
which was sufficiently small to ensure that the decompression
wave did not reach the closed end. A smooth wall was
assumed, although it is expected that a rough wall will probably
result in enhancing the frictional heating effect, if any. The
standard kc model for turbulence was used.
Figure 5 shows a typical instantaneous velocity vector field (at
5 ms from commencement) during the evolving transient flow.
A steep velocity gradient is seen near the wall, along with a
full velocity profile characteristic of turbulent flow.
Figure 5 Typical velocity vector field near exit
Figures 6 to 8 show a typical instantaneous (5 ms from the start)
set of simulation results for one of the 15 cases tested (initial
pressure 10 bar g, initial temperature 20C). The plots show
that the decompression wave has travelled approximately 1.5 m
away from the opening. There is a significant difference
between the gas temperature on the pipe axis and that near the
pipe wall, in the boundary layer. More importantly, Figure 8
shows the variation of the Eckert number in the direction of the
flow, showing that its value approaches unity at a point where
the difference between the axis and nearwall temperatures is
the greatest. This shows that the decompression is accompanied
by significant frictional heating adjacent to the wall.
Figure 6 Gas temperatures on axis and near pipe wall
Figure 7 Temperature difference between axis and near
wall
Figure 8 Eckert number variation
5 Copyright 2012 by ASME
EFFECT OF INITIAL PRESSURE AND TEMPERATURE
Figure 9 Effect of initial pressure, T
0
= 20C
Figure 9 above shows the effect of initial pressure on the
difference between gas temperature on the pipe axis and that
near the pipe wall, with an initial temperature of 20C. With
increasing initial pressure, the difference is progressively
reduced. This indicates that for higher initial pressures, the
decompression process is too rapid to let frictional heating
establish itself sufficiently.
This observation also points to the importance of estimating the
effect of LTE for high initial pressures and low initial
temperatures.
Figure 10 Effect of initial pressure, T
0
= 10C
Figures 10 and 11 show the effect of initial pressure on the
difference between gas temperature on the pipe axis and that
near the pipe wall, for initial temperatures of 10C and 0C
respectively. It is seen that these trends are very similar to those
seen in Figure 9 above. This observation suggests that the self
heating in the boundary layer is a process of its own (as also
observed in [5]), and depends only on the local flow condition.
Figure 11 Effect of initial pressure, T
0
= 0C
Finally, Figure 12 below shows the variation of pipeline wall
temperature with distance on the initial pressure, at 5 ms from
the flow commencement. While the drop in the wall
temperature is seen to occur at the location of maximum flow
speed, the magnitude of this temperature drop is very small.
Figure 12 Wall temperature for different initial pressures,
T
0
= 20 C
PRELIMINARY EXPERIMENT
The CFD studies described in the preceding sections
indicated that the pipeline material does not attain excessively
low temperatures during pipeline decompression for a wide
range of initial conditions. As stated above, currently there is a
lack of experimental data on metal temperatures during pipeline
decompression events. The following paragraphs describe an
experimental exercise designed to fill this gap.
A steel pipe (ID 20.8 mm, OD 26 mm), 3.5 m in length, was
charged with dry compressed air across an open valve at the
near end (Figure 13). The far end of the pipe is fitted with a
quickaction valve, enabling instantaneous opening. Near the
6 Copyright 2012 by ASME
exit plane, the gas and metal temperatures are to be measured
using very fine thermocouples (to minimize thermal inertia)
connected to a rapid response data logger (Figure 14).
Figure 13 Experimental arrangement
Figure 14 Rapid action valve and fine thermocouple
The experimental procedure was as follows: The pipe was
charged with dry air up to an initial pressure of ~800 kPag, with
the exit valve closed. With the temperature measurement
probes in place, the exit valve was opened to enable the
compressed air to drain rapidly from the pipe. Gas and metal
temperatures were measured during the decompression. Figure
15 shows a typical result of the measurement process.
Figure 15 Typical temperature trends
It can be seen from the measurements that the metal does not
cool to nearly the same extent as the gas.
CONCLUSIONS AND FURTHER WORK
The following general conclusions can be drawn from the
studies described above:
 Pipeline decompression flows are accompanied by frictional
heating in the boundary layer flow that develops during the
course of the decompression process;
 The flow Eckert number approaches the value 1 near the
exit plane of a fullbore decompression;
 The frictional heating in the boundary layer drives the slope
of the temperature profile at the wall towards zero, resulting
in reduced heat transfer from the wall to the flowing gas;
 The result is that the pipeline material is not cooled to nearly
the same extent as the gas, even at points where the gas
temperature is the lowest.
Further work is needed to validate the above studies:
 Further detailed experimental measurements of gas and
metal temperatures in case of pipeline decompression events
to validate the above observations based on CFD studies.
This may consist of:
 Gas temperature measurements in the developing boundary
layer, along with simultaneous measurements on the pipe
axis;
 Estimating the time scales necessary for the frictional
heating to establish itself under different decompression
process conditions;
 Deducing the functional form suggested in Equation 4,
relating the heat transfer during pipeline decompression to
pipe size, the flow condition, and frictional heating effects.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This work was funded by the Energy Pipelines CRC,
supported through the Australian Governments Cooperative
Research Centre Program. The cash and inkind support from
the APIA RSC is most gratefully acknowledged.
Grateful thanks also to Prof John Norrish, Dr Nathan
Larkin and Mr Nicholas Hoye for their assistance with the
experimental arrangement.
REFERENCES
1. AS 2885.1 (2007), Australian Standard Pipelines Gas
and Liquid Petroleum Part 1: Design and Construction
2. Venton, P, Cooper, P, Godbole, A, Law, M, (2009), Pipeline
Design and Construction research, 17
th
Joint Technical
Meeting on Pipeline Research, 1115 May 2009, Milan,
Italy
7 Copyright 2012 by ASME
3. Yildiz, A, (1964), Zum Wrmebergang am Kommutator,
Dissertation T.U. Berlin
4. Geropp, D, (1969), Der turbulente Wrmebergang am
rotierenden Zylinder, Ingenieur Archiv 38, p 195203
5. Gschwendtner, M A, (2004), The Eckert number
phenomenon: Experimental investigations on the heat
transfer from a moving wall in case of a rotating cylinder,
Heat and Mass Transfer 40 (2004), p 551559
6. Richardson, S M, and Saville, G, (1995), Blowdown of
pressurized vessels and pipelines, C502/002/95, IChemE
1995, p 3746
7. Botros, K K, Geerligs, J, Rothwell, B, Carlson, L, Fletcher,
L, Venton, P, (2010), Effects of Pipe Internal Surface
Roughness on Decompression Wave Speed in Natural Gas
Mixtures, Paper IPC201031667, Proc 8
th
International
Pipeline Conference IPC2010, Sept 27Oct 1, Calgary,
Alberta, Canada
8. Botros, K K, Studzinski, W, Geerligs, J, Glover, A, (2004),
Determination of Decompression Wave Speed in Rich Gas
Mixtures, The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering,
Volume, 82, June, p 112
9. Mills, A F, (1995), Heat and Mass Transfer, Richard D
Irwin, Inc.
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