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Velocity Measurement and the Development

of Boundary Layers in a Cylindrical Pipe

OCdt Bergenhus, Hartlen, Kim, McDermott and Rook
Mechanical, Aeronautical and Chemical Engineering Departments
Prepared for MEE311

Royal Military College of Canada
November 17, 2014

Abstract
This purpose of this experiment was to measure the radial distribution of airspeed in different cylindrical
conduits. The average velocities were found to be 23.30 m/s, 13.63 m/s, 11.62 m/s, and for the small
diameter tube at low velocity (Trail 1), the large diameter tube at high velocity (Trial 2) and the large
diameter tube for low velocity (Trial 3) respectively. The Reynold’s numbers were found to be 72 900,
64 800, 55 300 from Trial 1, Trial 2 and Trial 3 respectively, Finally, the volumetric flow rate for Trail 1
was 0.046 m3/s, 0.062 m3/s for Trial 2 and 0.053 m3/s for Trial 3. The theoretical volumetric flow rate
was 0.119 m3/s.

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Contents
Abstract …………………………………………………………………………………………………..II
List of Figures …………………………………………………………………………………………...IV
List of Tables……………………………………………………………………………………………..V
Nomenclature…………………………………………………………………………………………….VI
1 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………...1
2 Theory………………………………………………………………………………………………..….2
3 Materials and Methods……………………………………………………………………………..……3
4 Results……………………………………………………………………………………………..…….4
5 Discussion………………………………………………………………………………………..……...7
6 Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………………….……..8
References…………………………………………………………………………………………………9
Appendices……………………………………………………………………………………………….10

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List of Figures
Figure2.1: Average Velocity through a Circular Pipe…………………………………………………….2
Figure 3.1: Experimental Apparatus………………………………………………………………………3
Figure 4.1: Graph of the velocity distribution for low-velocity, 1-inch diameter tube……………..........5
Figure 4.2: Graph of the velocity distribution for high-velocity, 3-inch diameter tube………………….5
Figure 4.3: Graph of the velocity distribution for low-velocity, 3-inch diameter tube.………………….6

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List of Tables
Table 4.1: Experimental Conditions……………………………………………….……………………..4
Table 4.2: Experimental Results – Average Velocity, Reynolds Number, Volumetric and Mass Flow
Rate……………………………………………………………………………………………………….4

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Nomenclature
Symbol
A
Ai
D
r
P
V
v
vi
Re
ρ
Q

Description
Cross-sectional area of the pipe
Annulus, based on position of the pitot tube
Diameter
Radius
Pressure
Average velocity
Kinematic viscosity
Instantaneous velocity
Reynold’s number
Density of the fluid
Volumetric flow rate
Mass flow rate

Units
m2
m2
m
m
Pa
m/s
m2/s
m/s
kg/m3
m3/s
kg/s

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Introduction
This experiment was performed to measure the radial distribution of airspeed in different cylindrical
conduits. The development of the flow in a pipe was studied through measurements of velocity profiles
at various radial locations the flow entry and along the radius at each location. [1]
Studying the development of the flow in the pipe allows us to calculate the Reynolds number and thus
determining if the flow is laminar or turbulent. Laminar flows are smooth and constant while turbulent
are chaotic and unstable.

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Theory
The average velocity, V, was calculated using the following formula:
∮ 𝑣𝑖 𝑑𝐴 𝑉
= 𝐴

∑𝑣𝑖 𝐴𝑖 𝑉
= 𝐴

Where vi is the instantaneous velocity at the point where the Pitot tube measurement was taken, Ai is the
surface area of the segment for which the Pitot tube measurement was taken and A is the total surface
area of the circular cross-section of the tube.

Figure 2.1: Average velocity throughout a circular pipe.

The velocity across a tube is shown in Figure 3.1 and it can be seen that the velocities across the pipe
(the laminar flow) vary in a parabolic shape where the velocity at the sides of the pipe is zero whereas at
the center of the pipe the velocity hits its maximum. The average velocity is a calculated value that
represents a uniform velocity across the entire cross-section of the tube.
The instantaneous velocity was found using the pressure that was obtained from the Pitot tube at various
points across the tube.
2∆𝑃 𝑣𝑖
= √ 𝜌

ΔP is the difference between the pressure that was measured from the Pitot tube and the atmospheric
pressure that was read off of a barometer in the room and ρ is the density of air.
Ai was found using the following formula: 𝐴𝑖
= 𝜋(𝑅 2 − 𝑟 2 )
Where r is the inner radius of the tube and R is the outer radius of the tube.
The Reynolds number is the dimensionless velocity of a fluid and can be expressed as the following
ratio: 𝑉𝐿 𝑅𝑒

= 𝜐

Where V is the representative velocity scale of the flow, or the average velocity, L is the length of the
tube and 𝜐 is the kinematic viscosity of the air which was found to be 1.59x10-5 m2/s at 30°C from
interpolation of the values at 20°C and 40°C from Engineering Toolbox.[2]
The volumetric flow rate, Q, which is the volume of a fluid that passes through a certain area in a given
amount of time was calculated using the following equation: 𝑄
= 𝑉𝐴
Finally the mass flow rate, , which is the quantity of mass of the fluid that passes through a certain area
in a given amount of time was found using the following formula: 𝑚
̇ = 𝜌𝑉𝐴
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Materials and Methods
The apparatus shown by figure 1 was used to perform this experiment. It includes a blower, a settling
chamber, a flow straightener, various lengths of cylindrical PVC pipe, and a traversing Pitot tube
connected to a manometer, shown in Figure 1(b). A traverse mechanism mounted on the exit of the pipe
is used to determine the radial position of the Pitot tube. The settling chamber, a barrel with a traverse
area 70 times of the pipe, was designed to obtain a uniform and regular flow at the entrance of the pipe,
which is produces the exhaust. The air moves from the blower through a series of slats installed in the
chamber within the settling chamber. The flow passes through a section of the pipe which filled with
drinking straws to dampen out any remaining flow instabilities from the blower before to entering the
test pipe. [1]

(a) Apparatus

(b) Exhaust Pipe
Figure 3.1: Experimental Apparatus

Mount the test pipe and secure it in the exhaust section of the settling chamber. Align the Pitot
tube with the exit plane of the pipe section and secure it. Make sure the inclined manometer lines up
with the Pitot and ensure that the static ports are attached. The base of the manometer must be level
for us to use its air-bubble level indicators. Verify the zero datum. Record the temperature and the
atmosphere before starting the experiment using the thermometer and barometer. Start the blower and
make sure it is operating at the appropriate speed for the desired measurements. Take different
pressure measurements for 20 radial locations across the pipe exit. Do not try to push the tube pass its
anchor points as it could cause damage to the Pitot tube. At the end of the experiment, record the
temperature of the airflow by placing it inside the pipe exhaust. Repeat the procedure for either a
different pipe length and different speed.[1]

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Results
The following results were found though experimental work, by which the radial locations across the
pipe exit as well as the pressures were used to calculated the airspeed exiting the pipe. Table 4.1 shows
the conditions of the experiment. Table 4.2 shows the calculated results for Reynolds Number,
Volumetric Flow Rate and Mass Flow rate for each trail, sample calculations are shown in appendix B.
Table 4.1: Experimental Conditions
Item
Observation
Small Diameter
Tube
Room Temperature, ºC
Atmospheric Pressure, Pa
Temperature Air Flow, ºC
Inner Radius, m
Kinematic Viscosity, m2/s

21.6
101.7
33.5
0.025
1.5986 x 10-5

Large Diameter
Tube, high
speed
22
101.7
29
0.038
1.5986 x 10-5

Large Diameter
Tube, low velocity
22
101.7
29
0.038
1.5986 x 10-5

Table 4.2: Experimental Results – Average Velocity, Reynolds Number, Volumetric and Mass Flow
Rate
Small Diameter
Large Diameter Large Diameter
Tube
Tube, high
Tube, low velocity
speed
Average Velocity, m/s
23.30
13.63
11.62
Reynolds Number
7.29 x 104
6.48 x 104
5.53 x 104
3
Volumetric Flow Rate, m /s
0.046
0.062
0.053
Mass Flow Rate, kg/s
0.055
0.074
0.063
The following figures show the velocity distribution graph from each trail. Figure 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 show
the velocity distribution versus radial location for the small diameter tube at low velocity, the large
diameter tube at high velocity and the large diameter tube and low velocity in that order.

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Velocity distribution of air in 1.5"
diameter tube (low speed)
Radial Location (mm)

3
2
1
0
0.00

0.50

1.00

1.50

2.00

2.50

-1
-2
-3

V/Vavg

Figure 4.1: Graph of the velocity distribution for low-velocity, 1-inch diameter tube.

Velocity distribution of air in 3" diameter
tube (high speed)
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Radial Location (mm)

3
2
1
0
0.00
-1

0.50

1.00

1.50

2.00

2.50

-2
-3
-4

V/Vavg
Figure 4.2: Graph of the velocity distribution for high-velocity, 3-inch diameter tube.
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Velocity distribution of air in 3"
diameter tube (low speed)
4.0

Radial Location (mm)

3.0
2.0
1.0
0.0
0.00
-1.0

0.50

1.00

1.50

2.00

-2.0
-3.0
-4.0

v/Vavg

Figure 4.3: Graph of the velocity distribution for low-velocity, 3-inch diameter tube.

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Discussion
The dimensionless velocity profiles above represent the velocity distribution in graph form. The shape of
this profile is similar to a theoretical parabolic profile, but coarser and more irregular. However, the
respective Reynold’s number of each pipe, (72 900, 64 800 and 55 300), indicate that the flow is
turbulent. In order for the flows to be laminar, the Reynold’s number for each pipe must be less than
2300, in accordance with White’s Textbook: Fluid Mechanics 7th edition. Since the flow is turbulent,
this explains the uneven and rough velocity profile illustrated above. Observations of the graphs also
show that the maximum airspeed is not at the center of the pipe. This suggests that the air flow is not
perfectly uniform upon exit of the settling chamber and entrance to the pipe.
The volumetric flow rating of the blower is 0.1109 m3/s corrected for 20°C. Our calculations yield
volumetric flow rates significantly lower; approximately 53.5% of the theoretical rating according to the
blower. This indicates error within the experiment, specifically loss air within the system or systematic
error. The difference between our calculated volumetric flow rate and the theoretical can be explained in
3 ways: The blower may not actually be outputting its rating of 0.1109 m3/ s. Air may be escaping the
through the joint between the settling chamber and the blower or the pipe. Lastly, our measurements
may have been too few to accurately measure the volumetric flow rate of turbulent flow exiting from the
exhaust.
To improve the experiment, we could test the blower specifically to ensure that it theoretical rating is
accurate. As well, we could conduct more sets of trials to obtain a better average of the turbulent flow.
Overall, the velocity profiles of each tube was studied and found to be consistent with turbulent flow.
The results are satisfactory in comparison to a theoretical velocity distribution and profile; yet, in
comparison to the rating of the blower, there is evidence of notable error.

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Conclusion
When analyzing the small diameter tube, the average velocity was determined to be 23.30 m/s, the
Reynold’s number is 79 000. In addition the volumetric flow rate was 0.046 m3/s, compared to a
theoretical rate of 0.119 m3/s. Analyzing the large tube at high velocity yielded the results: 13.63 m/s, 64
800 and 0.062m3/s, respectively. The results of the large tube at low velocity were: 11.62 m/s, 55 300,
and 0.053 m3/s, respectively.

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References
[1] Lab Handout – Fluid Mechanics Laboratory: Velocity Measurement and the Development of
Boundary Layers in a Cylindrical Pipe
[2] Engineering Toolbox – Air Properties http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/air-properties-d_156.html.

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Appendix A - Sample Calculations
Calculations performed for “Small Diameter Tube – Radial location 2.7cm”
Instantaneous Velocity:
Determine the distance from the radius by subtracting the change in radial location from the radius.
Using this radius, the annulus can be calculated, followed by the instantaneous velocity. 𝒓𝒊
= 𝒓 − (𝒓𝒏 − 𝒓𝒐 ) 𝑟𝑖
= 0.025m − (0.027m − 0.026m) 𝑟𝑖
= 0.023 m 𝑨𝒊
= 𝝅(𝒓𝟐 − 𝒓𝟐𝒊 ) 𝐴𝑖
= 𝜋(0.025m2 − 0.023m2 ) 𝐴𝑖
= 3.02 x 10−4 m2 𝒗𝒊
= √ 𝑣𝑖
= 𝟐

∆𝑷 𝝆

2(902.21Pa − 101.7Pa)
kg

1.20 ⁄m3 𝑣𝑖
= 36.53 m⁄s

Average Velocity:

∑𝒗𝒊 𝑨𝒊 𝑨

3
0.92 m ⁄s 𝑽

= 𝑉

=

Reynold’s Number:

20 ∗ 1.96 x 10−3 m2 𝑉
= 13.89 m⁄s 𝑽𝑫 𝑹𝒆

= 𝝊

13.89 m⁄s ∙ 0.05m 𝑅𝑒
=
2
1.59 x 10−5 m ⁄s 𝑅𝑒
= 72900

Note: In this equation v=kinematic viscosity
Since Re > 2300 the flow is turbulent
Volumetric Flow Rate and Mass Flow Rate: 𝑸
= 𝑽𝑨 𝑄
= 13.89 m⁄s ∙ 1.96 x 10−3 m2
10

3 𝑄
= 0.046 m ⁄s 𝒎

̇ = 𝝆𝑽𝑨 𝑚
̇ = 𝜌𝑄
kg⁄
m3⁄ 𝑚
̇ = 1.20
s
m3 ∙ 0.046 𝑚
̇ = 0.055

kg⁄ 𝑠

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Appendix B – Sample Error Calculations
The following calculations were done for the large diameter tube at low speed.
Manometer Height 𝜕

1
∆ℎ = 𝐿
∙ sin (arctan ( )) ∙ |∆𝐿| 𝜕𝐿

2
1
∆ℎ = sin (arctan ( )) ∙ |0.0005𝑚|
2
∆ℎ = ±0.00022𝑚
Pressure 𝜕

∆𝑃 = 𝜌𝑔
ℎ ∙ |∆ℎ| 𝜕

998𝑘𝑔 9.81𝑚
∆𝑃 = (
) ( 2 ) ∙ |0.00022𝑚| 𝑚
2 𝑠

∆𝑃 = ±2.189𝑃𝑎
Velocity
∆𝑣 = 𝜕

2𝑃
√ |∆𝑃| 𝜕𝑃
𝜌

2
2 ∙ 186.33𝑃𝑎 −1/2
|2.189𝑃𝑎|
∆𝑣 =
[
]
1.20𝑘𝑔/𝑚3 1.20𝑘𝑔/𝑚3
∆𝑣 = ±0.21𝑚/𝑠
Average Velocity

∆𝑣
# 𝑜𝑓 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑙𝑠
∆𝑉 = ±0.16𝑚/𝑠

∆𝑉 = ∑
Reynolds Number 𝜕

𝑉𝑎𝑣𝑔 𝐷
|∆𝑉𝑎𝑣𝑔 | 𝜕𝑉𝑎𝑣𝑔
𝑣
0.05𝑚
|0.16𝑚/𝑠|
∆𝑅𝑒 =
2
1.59 x 10−5 m ⁄s
∆𝑅𝑒 = ±503.14
Percent Error for Volumetric Flow 𝑚
3 𝑄𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑙
= 0.053 𝑠 𝑓𝑡

3 𝑚
3 𝑄𝑡
ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 = 235
= 0.1109 𝑚𝑖𝑛 𝑠

∆𝑅𝑒 =

12 𝑡

ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 − 𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑙
%𝐸𝑟𝑟𝑜𝑟 = |
| 𝑥100% 𝑡
ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙
%𝐸𝑟𝑟𝑜𝑟 = 52.2%

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