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Arindam Mandal et al.

/ International Journal of Engineering Science and Technology
Vol. 2(6), 2010, 1500-1506
Experimental Investigation of Turbulent Fluid
Flow through a Rectangular Elbow
Arindam Mandal
1
*, Somnath Bhattecharjee
2
, Rabin Debnath
2
, Debasish Roy
3
, Snehamoy Majumder
3


1
Post Graduate Student, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata-700032
2
Research Scholars, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata-700032
3
Faculty, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata-700032
*Corresponding Author: e-mail: arindam.mmeju@gmail.com Mob no.-09932030272


Abstract

The analysis of the turbulent fluid flow in a rectangular elbow is important for many engineering applications like heat
exchanger, fluid transport piping system, air conditioning devices etc. Present study investigates the flow visualization of turbulent
fluid flow through a rectangular elbow and estimation of co-efficient of friction. The working fluid is air and flow taken to be is
incompressible, turbulent and non-reacting. The velocity profiles along the elbow duct are observed at Reynolds number of
3.8×10
4
and 4.8×10
4
respectively. The rectangular elbow duct is 1.470 m in length with 0.161 m hydraulic diameter. The
measurement was taken by means of a Prandtl’s tube for getting the mean turbulent velocities. By analyzing the velocity
distribution it has been found that the size of the re-circulation zone increases with the increase of Reynolds number. The
experimental result shows that location of the Re-circulation bubble around the outer and inner wall of the bend is independent of
the Reynolds number. It was also found that the friction factor variation is very complicated and as a consequence the flow in the
downstream side is chaotic and unpredictable.

Key words: Rectangular Elbow, Re-circulation zone, Turbulent Flow, Friction Factor.

1. Introduction

The flow through the rectangular elbow is very important and many researchers investigate the same considering both laminar
and turbulent flow numerically and experimentally for long time. A brief review of past experimental and numerical studies of the
flow is mentioned herewith. Numerical solutions of the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations are obtained for steady, laminar
flows through 90° diversions of rectangular cross-section Neary and Sotiropoulos [9]. Akilli et al. [1] investigated the behaviors of
gas particle flow in a horizontal pipe following a 90° vertical to horizontal elbow both numerically and experimentally. Lee et al.
[7] investigated the gas flow in micro channel with bend. Numerical and experimental simulation of dilute particulate turbulent
flow in 90° duct bends was given by Kuan et al. [6]. Pressure loss in two-phase upward flow 90° bend was given by Azzi and
Friedel [2]. Yang and Kuan [15] obtained the mean and turbulent flow velocities of gas and particulate phases inside a curved 90°
bend. Gas-liquid two phase turbulent flow simulation was reported by Spedding and Benard [10] experimentally. Wilson and
Smith [12] analyzed the three-dimensional incompressible turbulent flow through a slender bent pipe of simple cross-section. Flow
characteristics of pressure driven de-ionized water were investigated experimentally in straight and serpentine micro-channels with
miter bends by Xiong and Chung [13]. The micro-channels had rectangular cross section with hydraulic diameters of 0.209 mm;
0.395 mm and 0.549 mm. Kim et al. [5] investigated the flow in 90° elbow of local two-phase flow parameters and their transport
characteristics in horizontal bubbly flow. Flow characteristics in micro fluidic channel with miter bend extensively studied by
Xiong and Chung [14]. They investigated detail velocity profile, flow separation, re-circulation and friction drag. Experimental
investigation of air water two-phase flow pressure drop in vertical internally wavy 90° bend have been carried out by Benbella et
al. [3]
These authors are not aware of any study which concentrates on the study of recirculation bubble, its strength and location. In the
present work experimental investigation is carried out for incompressible, turbulent flow through an elbow. Attention was focused
on location and strength of the recirculation zone.

Nomenclature
I Velocity of fluid flow, m/sec
X The distance of the stations measured from
the outlet end of the blower, m
Y The height of the station measure from the
base of the elbow, m
N Rotational speed of the blower, RPM
Ð
h
Hydraulic diameter of the elbow, m
ISSN: 0975-5462 1500
Arindam Mandal et al. / International Journal of Engineering Science and Technology
Vol. 2(6), 2010, 1500-1506
P
t
Stagnation pressure, N/m
2

P
st
Static pressure, N/m
2

I
t
Inclined level of the oil in manometer of
stagnation reading, m
I
st
Inclined level of the oil in manometer of
static reading, m
w Specific weight of the mercury, kg/m
3


2H Height of the Elbow duct, m
2B Width of the Elbow duct, m
p
uì¡
Density of air, Kg/m
3

I Absolute temperature, K
0 Angle of inclination of manometer, degree
p Dynamic viscosity of air, N-s/m
2

p
oìI
Density of oil used in manometer, kg/m
3

I. C. Vernier constant
I. S. Vernier scale reading
R Gas constant, J/K mol
g Acceleration due to gravity, m/sec
2





2. Experimental Setup & Technique


Figure 1. Schematic diagram of Experimental Setup

A complete description of the experimental setup is shown in the Fig. 1. The components of the set up are as follows.
i) A rectangular elbow, ii) A blower, iii) Inclined tube manometer fitted with Pandlt tube, iv) DC Variac, v)speed sensor
equipment etc. have been used.
In this experiment the working fluid is air with density 1.184 Kg/m
3
and dynamic viscosity is 1.85×10
-5
N-s/m
2
corresponding to
25°C. The Single tube inclined manometer has been set an angle of 5° in order to magnify the reading with higher accuracy. The
manometric fluid used in the tube of the manometer is kerosene oil (Density=800 Kg/m
3
) and the Newtonian fluid used to flow
through the Elbow is Air only. The sealing of the inside portion of all the walls of the elbow has been done properly. To deter mine
the density of air at certain temperature and pressure, laboratory temperature in centigrade scale along with barometer readings
have been taken. The various locations for measurement from the blower outlet have been marked. Here we get the data with a
motor speed 600 RPM and 800 RPM respectively. Initial readings of the Inclined tube manometer (when it is not attached with the
measurement tube i.e. Stagnation and Static tube placed inside the Elbow) Have been taken. Both the Stagnation and Static tubes
have been calibrated with that of a standard one which is supplied by N.P.L. India and accordingly we have determined Calibration
factors equal to 0.987 and 0.965 respectively. This tube has been inserted through all the small holes along the center line of the
top wall of the Elbow to get the final readings. The height at which the stagnation and Static tubes have been raised measure with
calibrated scale.
1.275m
1.10m
0.91m
0.84m
0.55m
0.215m
0
.
1
6
5
m
0
.
1
9
5
m
ISSN: 0975-5462 1501
Arindam Mandal et al. / International Journal of Engineering Science and Technology
Vol. 2(6), 2010, 1500-1506
The equation used
P
t
-P
st
= (I
t
-I
st
) sin0 p
oìI
g (1)
In equation (1) P
t
is the Stagnation or Total pressure, P
st
is the Static pressure.
We get the air velocity in the duct which is
I = _
2(L
t
-L
st
) ×sIn0×p
cil
×g
p
cir
×100
m/s (2)
We found the term p
uì¡
which is nothing but density of air and we get in equation (3).
p
uì¡
=
(P+v.C×v.S)2.54w
R×1×100
Kg/m
3
(3)
Our main aim was to determine the Recirculation zone. Reynolds number is an important parameter which can be defined as:
Rc =
p
cir
×v×Ð
h
µ
(4)
Where, Rc is the Reynolds number based on area weighted average velocity and hydraulic diameter, p is the dynamic viscosity
of air, Ð
h
is the hydraulic diameter of rectangular elbow and I is the average stream-wise velocity. In fig. 2 we have shown the
detail cross section of the Elbow duct.

Figure 2. Cross section of Rectangular Elbow
Ð
h
is defined as:
Ð
h
=
4HB
(H+B)
(5)
3. Result and Discussion

Figure 3 and 4 represent the variation of fluid velocity along the perpendicular direction from the base of the lower limb at
different stations with 600 RPM and 800 RPM. In both of the cases we have observed no recirculatory flow, they differ in
magnitude only. In the figs. 5 and 6 the velocity distributions in the vertical limb of the rectangular elbow at the same stations of
the earlier figure have been plotted. The position of the station is measured from the base of the elbow. In these two figures we
observe that the reverse flow which represents the recirculation is present.
2B 
2H 
ISSN: 0975-5462 1502
Arindam Mandal et al. / International Journal of Engineering Science and Technology
Vol. 2(6), 2010, 1500-1506

 
 
Figure 3. Velocity distribution of lower limb at 600 RPM





Figure 5. Velocity distribution of veticle limb at 600RPM



Figure 4. Velocity distribution of lower limb at 800 RPM





Figure 6. Velocity distribution of vertical limb at 800 RPM
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
0 1 2 3 4
H
e
i
g
h
t

(
m
)
velocity (m/s)
X=0.215m,
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
0 1 2 3 4
H
e
i
g
h
t

(
m
)
Velocity (m/s)
X=0.55 m
‐2
0
2
4
6
0 0.05 0.1 0.15
V
e
l
o
c
i
t
y
 
(
m
/
s
)
Distance (m)
Y=0.165m
‐2
0
2
4
6
0 0.05 0.1 0.15
V
e
l
o
c
i
t
y
 
(
m
/
s
)
Distance (m)
Y=0.195m
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
0 2 4 6
H
e
i
g
h
t
 
(
m
)
Velocity(m/s)
X=0.215m
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
0 2 4 6
H
e
i
g
h
t
 
(
m
)
Velocity(m/s)
X=0.55m
‐2
0
2
4
6
0 0.05 0.1 0.15
V
e
l
o
c
i
t
y
(
m
/
s
)
Distance (m)
Y=0.165m
‐2
0
2
4
6
8
0 0.05 0.1 0.15
V
e
l
o
c
i
t
y
(
m
/
s
)
Distance (m)
Y=0.195m
ISSN: 0975-5462 1503
Arindam Mandal et al. / International Journal of Engineering Science and Technology
Vol. 2(6), 2010, 1500-1506








Figure 7. Velocity Distribution of upper limb at 600 RPM










Figure 8. Velocity Distribution of upper limb at 800 RPM



0
0.05
0.1
0.15
0 2 4 6
H
e
i
g
h
t

(
m
)
Velocity(m/s)
X=0.84m
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
‐5 ‐3 ‐1 1 3 5 7 9
H
e
i
g
h
t

(
m
)
Velocity (m/s)
X=0.91m
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
‐4 ‐2 0 2 4 6
H
e
i
g
h
t
(
m
)
Velocity(m/s)
X=1.10m
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
0 2 4 6
H
e
i
g
h
t
 
(
m
)
Velocity(m/s)
X=1.275m
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
‐4 ‐2 0 2 4 6
H
e
i
g
h
t
 
(
m
)
Velocity (m/s)
X=0.84m
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
‐5 ‐3 ‐1 1 3 5 7 9
H
e
i
g
h
t
 
(
m
)
Velocity (m/s)
X=0.91m
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
‐4 ‐2 0 2 4 6 8
H
e
i
g
h
t
 
(
m
)
Velocity (m/s)
X=1.10 m
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
0 2 4 6
H
e
i
g
h
t
 
(
m
)
Velocity (m/s)
X=1.275m
ISSN: 0975-5462 1504
Arindam Mandal et al. / International Journal of Engineering Science and Technology
Vol. 2(6), 2010, 1500-1506
In the figure 7 and 8 we get the velocity distribution in the upper limb in the respective station with different RPM. From the 1
st

plot of the figure 7 which is a representation of the curve in 600 RPM; we get the velocity profile without flow reversal, after that
from the next two plot of the same figure we observed the recirculation flow appears. The curves in the figure 8 which is a result of
800 RPM we get the recirculation from the beginning and it is continuing to the next two locations. From the last plot of the figure
7 and 8 we observed that no reverse flow occurred in this station, from this it is clear that recirculation zone which has started just
after the inner corner is over.

Figure 9. Variation of friction factor with along the wall of the duct
In the Figure 9 variation of friction factor with respect to length along the elbow has been plotted for 600 RPM and 800 RPM
respectively. From both plot it is observed that friction factor is quite asymmetric. We see that for the upper wall friction factor
starting with negative and after wards the value becomes positive and remains constant for some downstream length, followed by
negative once again for both RPM. In the case of lower wall it is not so complicated. Here we see that the curve starting with
negative zone remains same for a long distance compared to the upper wall for both RPM. After that the curve goes into positive
zone after little effort it comes into negative zone. For the case of upper wall the friction factor stay much more positive up to long
distance compared to the lower wall.

4. Conclusion
The present experimental study was focused on determination of the location and probable recirculation size of the flow through
the elbow duct with different Reynolds number. In this work the detail velocity distribution in the elbow duct have been
investigated thoroughly. It is observed that recirculation have formed around the outer corner and immediately after the inner
corner (flow separation phenomena). It is clear from the presented results that re-circulation bubble length increased with the
increase of Reynolds number. Location of the recirculation bubble is not changing with Reynolds number. Which means for both
of the Reynolds number investigated the locations of the onset of the recirculation is the same. Only the size and strength are
changing with the variations of the Reynolds number. The friction factor variation is very complicated denoting that the flow in the
downstream direction is highly chaotic and unpredictable.

References
[1] Akilli, H., Levy, E.K. and Sahin, B., 2001, “Gas-solid flow behavior in a horizontal pipe after a 90° vertical-to-horizontal elbow”, Powder
Technology116 (1), pp.43-52.
[2] Azzi, A. and Friedel, L., 2005, “Two-phase upward flow 90° bend pressure loss model”, Forschung im Ingenieurwesen 69. pp.120-130.
[3] Benbella, S., Al-Shannag, M. and Al-Anber, Zaid A., 2009, “Gas–liquid pressure drop in vertical internally wavy 90° bend”, Experimental Thermal and
Fluid Science 33, pp.340-347.
[4] El-Gammal, M., Mazhar, H., Cotton, J.S., Shefski, C., Pietralik, J. and Ching, C.Y., 2010, “The hydrodynamic effects of single-phase flow on flow
accelerated corrosion in a 90° elbow”, Nuclear Engineering and Design 240, pp.1589-1598.
[5] Kim, S., Park, J.H., Kojasoy, G., Kelly, J.M. and Marshall, S.O., 2007, “Geometric effects of 90-degree Elbow in the development of interfacial
structures in horizontal bubbly flow”, Nuclear Engineering and Design, pp. 1-9.
[6] Kuan, B., William, Y. and Solnordal, C., Dec. 10-12,2003, “CFD simulation and experimental validation of dilute particulate turbulent flow in 90° duct
bend”,Proc. 3
rd
Int. Conf. on CFD in the Minerals and Process Ind., CSIRO, Mlbourne, Australia, pp. 531-536.
[7] Lee, S.Y.K., Wong, M. and Zohar, Y., 2001, “Gas flow in micro channels with bends”, J. Micromech. Microeng. 11, pp.635- 644.
[8] Lim, Ki Won and Chung, Myung Kyoon, 1999, “Numerical investigation on the installation effects of electromagnetic flow meter downstream of a
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[9] Neary, V.S. and Sotiropoulos, F., 1996, “Numerical investigation of laminar flows through 90° diversions of rectangular cross-section”, Computers &
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[10] Spedding, P.L. and Benard, E., 2007, “Gas-liquid two phase flow through a vertical 90° elbow bend”, Exp. Thermal Fluid Sci. 31, pp.761-769.
[11] Spedding, P.L., Benard, E. and Crawford, N.M., 2008, “Fluid flow through a vertical to horizontal 90° elbow bend III phase flow ”, Exp. Thermal Fluid
Sci.32, pp827-843.
[12] Wilson Phillip L. and Smith Frank T., 2007, “The development of the turbulent flow in a bent pipe”, J. Fluid Mech., vol. 578, pp. 467–494.
-0.000030
-0.000020
-0.000010
0.000000
0.000010
0 20 40 60 80 C
f
S
Lower Wall
Upper Wall
600 RPM
-0.000040
-0.000020
0.000000
0.000020
0 20 40 60 80
C
f
S
Lower wall
Upper Wall
800 RPM
ISSN: 0975-5462 1505
Arindam Mandal et al. / International Journal of Engineering Science and Technology
Vol. 2(6), 2010, 1500-1506
[13] Xiong, R. and Chung, Jacob N., 2007, “Flow characteristics of water in straight and serpentine micro-channels with miter bends”, Experimental
Thermal and Fluid Science 31, pp.805-812.
[14] Xiong, R. and Chung, Jacob N., 2008, “Effects of miter bend on pressure drop and flow structure in micro-fluidic channels”, International Journal of
Heat and Mass Transfer 51, pp.2914-2924.
[15] Yang,W. and Kuan, B., 2006, “Experimental investigation of dilute turbulent particulate flow inside a curved 90◦ bend”, Chemical Engineering Science
61, pp.3593-3601.

ISSN: 0975-5462 1506