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ASHRAE Journal

Designing Industrial
Exhaust Systems
m 3 = m 1 + m 2

By Patrick Brooks, P.E.


Member ASHRAE

hen engineers design supply systems, a few assumptions simplify the process of calculating pressure losses. One of the
main assumptions is that the air density remains constant
throughout the system. For this to be true, the process must be adiabatic
(no heat loss), incompressible, isothermal (constant temperature), and
isobaric (constant pressure).
From the perfect gas law, even first-year engineers know that density
increases as temperature decreases or as pressure increases. Likewise,
density decreases as temperature rises or pressure falls. Since pressure
drop due to friction is actually a function of density, density must be accounted for if it varies much from standard.
In supply systems, the pressure drop
correction often is made by applying a
factor equal to the ratio of the actual density to standard density:
a
(1)
FAN TPa = FAN TPS
s
where,
FAN TPa = fan total pressure requirement at actual conditions, in. w.g. (Pa)
FAN TPs = fan total pressure requirement calculated at standard conditions,
in. w.g. (Pa)
a = actual density of the air, lbm/ft3
(kg/m3)
s = density of standard air = 0.075
lbm/ft3 (1.204 kg/m3)
In exhaust systems, density might
change throughout the system. This can
occur if the effluents being exhausted are
at different temperatures and thus different densities. The effluents might also
consist of various types of gases and
amounts of particulates that affect the den1

ASHRAE Journal

sity. As streams of gas mixtures meet at


junctions in exhaust systems, new densities are created. To properly design these
systems, engineers must account for differences in density throughout the system as they calculate pressure losses.
Fundamentals of Mass
and Energy Flow
The two fundamental concepts that
govern the flow of air in ducts are the
laws of conservation of mass and conservation of energy.
Conservation of Mass
The law of conservation of mass tells
us that, at steady state conditions, the
mass flow rate of gas entering a control
volume must equal the mass flow rate of
gas exiting the control volume. If the mass
flow rates entering the control volume are
given by m 1 and m 2, and the mass flow
rate exiting the control volume is given
by m 3, then:

(2)

The mass flow rate equals the density


of the gas stream () times the volume
flow rate (Q). Therefore, Equation 2 can
be written as:
(3)
3 Q3 = 1 Q1 + 2 Q2
Q3
Q1
Q2

3 1000 = 1 1000 + 2 1000

where,
i = the density at the i cross-section,
lbm/ft3 (kg/m3)
Qi = the air volume flow rate, cfm (L/s,
converted to m3/s by dividing by 1,000).
Since the volume flow rate is simply the
velocity (V) times the cross-sectional area
(A), Equation 3 can also be written as:
3V3A3 = 1V1A1 + 2V2A2

(4)

VA
VA
V A
3 3 32 = 1 1 1 2 + 2 2 22
1,000
1,000
1,000

where,
V = the velocity, fpm (m/s).
A = the cross-sectional area, ft2 (mm2
converted to m2 by dividing by 1,0002).
Equation 4 will be used at junctions
where two gas streams are combined.

Conservation of Energy
Applying the conservation of energy
About the Author
Patrick J. Brooks is director of
Manufacturing Services for United
McGill, Columbus, Ohio. He is a member and former chair of TC 5.2, Duct
Design, and is a member of SPC 120,
Methods of Testing to Determine Flow
Resistance of HVAC Air Ducts and Fittings, SPC 126, Methods of Testing
HVAC Air Ducts and SPC 134, Graphic
Symbols of HVAC&R Systems.

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April 2001

ASHRAE Journal

laws to the control volume at steady state conditions, E3 = E1 +

E2. Neglecting the small effects of heat loss, potential energy,


and kinetic energy at the junction, and since no work is done,
the equation for conserving energy becomes:
h = m h + m h
m
(5)
3 3

1 1

2 2

where,
hi = the enthalpy of the gas stream at the i cross-section,
Btu/lbm (kJ/kg).
Enthalpy is a thermodynamic property of a homogeneous
gas. It can generally be calculated as a function of the average
specific heat of the gas for the process and the temperature:
hi = Cp ti
(6)
where,
Cp = is the average specific heat of the gas, Btu/lbm F
(kJ/kg C).
ti = the average temperature of the gas stream at the i
cross-section, F (C).
Chapter 6 of the 1997 ASHRAE HandbookFundamentals
provides information to calculate enthalpies of gas mixtures
(including those with water vapor). Cp is relatively constant for
most gases over a wide range of temperatures. Under this assumption, Equation 5 can be rewritten as:
t
m 3 t3= m 1 t1+ m
(7)
2 2
or
t3 =

m 1 t1 + m 2 t2
m + m
1

(8)

Knowing the mixed temperature allows us to determine the


density of the mixture. From the perfect gas law, the density
ratio of a gas at two different temperatures and pressures is
given by:
1 T2P1
(9)
2 = T P
1 2
where,
Ti is the absolute temperature of the gas at i, R (K).
Pi is the absolute pressure of the gas at i, in. Hg (kPa).
In gas streams, the change in absolute pressure is often negligible. For a gas stream composed mostly of air, in which
changes in absolute pressure are small, the density can be estimated from:
293
530

or 1 . 20 4 kg/m 3
a = 0.075 lbm /ft 3
(10)
Ta
Ta
Heat Loss/Gain
Heat loss/gain in each section of duct must also be accounted
for in exhaust design. This is because heat transfer to ambient
will cool a hot gas (or warm a cool gas) as it flows through
ducts.
If the gas temperatures are much different from ambient, duct
pressure drop calculations should account for this heat loss/
gain. The temperatures of the gases entering a junction must be
calculated. These are the temperatures of the gases that will mix
in the junction.
Chapter 32 of the ASHRAE HandbookFundamentals pro2

ASHRAE Journal

vides methods to determine heat loss/gain. This calculation is


an application of the general heat transfer equation, Q = UA T.
The designer may also want to determine the duct wall temperatures to determine if insulation is necessary as a safety precaution or to reduce heat loss or gain.
Pressure Loss Corrections
There are two different types of pressure losses associated
with ductwork: friction losses and dynamic losses.
Friction Losses
In laminar flow, friction losses result from momentum exchange
between molecules. In turbulent flow, friction losses result from
momentum exchange between individual particles of adjacent
fluid layers moving at different velocities. The Darcy equation
is used to calculate friction loss.
2
L V2
L V
Pf = f

or f
(11)

Dh 1097
Dh 2
where,
f = the friction factor
L = the length of the duct, ft (m)
Dh = the hydraulic diameter, ft (m)
(the other terms are previously defined)
The friction factor in the Darcy equation is a function of the
material absolute roughness, hydraulic diameter, and Reynolds
Number. When the Darcy equation is used to calculate friction
loss, there is no need for additional correction factors because
the friction factor can be calculated for actual conditions. Either
the Colebrook equation or the Altshul-Tsal equation can be
used to determine the friction factor. Chapter 32 of the ASHRAE
HandbookFundamentals presents those equations.
Most designers do not take the time to apply the Colebrook
or Altshul-Tsal equations and calculate pressure drop with the
Darcy Equation. Instead, they use a friction chart or ductulator.
Those tools incorporate a friction factor based on standard
conditions. When friction losses are calculated at standard conditions, correction factors must be applied for actual conditions.
To correct the friction loss for temperature, use:
0.825
293 0.825
530

or
K t =
(12)
273 + ti

460 + t i
To correct the friction loss for changes in barometric pressure, use:
0. 9
0.9

or
K =

(13)
29.921
101.325
where, is the actual barometric pressure, in. Hg (kPa).
Example 1:
Air is flowing in a 6-in. (160-mm) diameter exhaust duct at 3,000
fpm (15 m/s). The friction loss from the ASHRAE friction loss
chart is 2.2 in. w.g./100 ft (16 Pa/m). [SI values in this example are
not direct conversions; they are approximate to the English values but are determined separately.] If the temperature of the gas
is 500F (260C) and the barometric pressure is 27 in. Hg (91.4
kPa) then Kt = 0.61 and K = 0.91. The friction rate becomes:

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April 2001

Pressure Loss
0.61 0.91 2.2 in. w.g./100 ft = 1.22 in. w.g./100 ft
0.61 0.91 16 Pa/m = 8.9 Pa/m
Dynamic Losses
Dynamic losses are caused by flow disturbances from duct
mounted equipment and fittings that change the direction and/
or area of the airflow path. The fluid resistance coefficient C, is
the ratio of the total pressure (dynamic) loss to the velocity
pressure at the reference cross section.
p
C = p i {so pi = C pv}
(14)
v
Loss coefficients for many fittings are listed in the ASHRAE
Duct Fitting Loss Coefficient Tables. This information is also
available as a computerized ASHRAE Duct Fitting Database.
The coefficients are tabulated as a function of size and/or airflow and area ratios. Once the loss coefficient is determined, it
is multiplied by the velocity pressure at the reference cross
section to determine the pressure loss of the fitting. The velocity pressure is given by:
2
V 2
V
, Pa
p v =
, in. w.g.
(15)
1097
2
If the velocity pressure is calculated as if the gas were at
standard conditions ( = 0.075 lbm/ft3, [1.204 kg/m3]), equation
15 reduces to:
2
V
pv =
, in. w.g.
0.602 V 2 , Pa
(16)
4005
When the velocity pressure is calculated for standard conditions using equation 16, the total pressure loss must be corrected multiplying it by the ratio of actual to standard densities.

Example 2:
Calculate the loss of a die-stamped elbow under the same
conditions of Example 1. The airflow rate is 600 cfm (300 L/s).
From the ASHRAE Duct Fitting Database, the loss coefficient is, C = 0.14, the velocity pressure at standard conditions
is 0.58 in. w.g. (135 Pa), and the pressure loss at standard conditions is 0.08 in. w.g. (19 Pa).
The actual ratio of densities from Equation 9 is:
a 530 27
=

= 0.50
s 460 + 500 29.921
293 91.4
273 + 260 101.325

(17)

Therefore, the actual total pressure loss of the elbow is 0.50


0.08 or 0.04 in. w.g. (9.5 Pa).
Since we know the ratio of densities, we could also have
calculated the actual density (0.075 0.50 = 0.0375 lbm/ft3
[1.204 0.50 = 0.602 kg/m3]). The true velocity pressures could
have been calculated as:
2
3056
p v = 0.0375
= 0.29 in. w.g.
1097

152
= 68 Pa
0.602
2

April 2001

Figure 1: ASHRAE Fitting ED5-2 (Wye, 45, converging). Inlet


to Section 1 has 600 cfm (300 L/s) at 500F [260C]. Inlet to
Section 2 has 600 cfm (300 L/s) at 70F (20C). Sections 1 and
2 are each 10 ft (3 m) long. Section 3 is 20 ft (6 m) long.

Multiplying the actual velocity pressure by the loss coefficient gives identical results.
System Losses
To determine system losses, individual component losses
must be calculated and the total pressure loss in each path
summed. The following example illustrates this process.
Example 3:
Barometric Pressure = 27 in. Hg (91.4 kPa). The inlet loss
coefficients are both equal to 0.93. The ducts are sized to maintain 3,000 fpm (15 m/s) to avoid particulate dropout.
Sections 1 and 2 are sized at 6-in. (160-mm) diameters. The
size for Section 3 must be determined for the actual volume flow
rate in Section 3. The volume flow rate is the mass flow rate
divided by the density.
The first step is to calculate the densities and mass flow rates
in Sections 1 and 2. The conditions in Section 1 are the same as
in Example 2. The density in Section 1 has already been calculated as 1 = 0.0375 lbm/ft3 (0.602 kg/m3).
The density for Section 2 can be calculated using Equation 9
as:
530 27
3
2 = 0.075
= 0.068 lb m /ft

460 + 70 29.921

293 91 . 4
3
1 . 204 273 + 20 101 . 325 = 1.086 kg/m

The mass flow rates are calculated from Equation 3 as:


300

= 0.18 kg/s
m 1 = 0.0375 600 = 22.2 lbm/min 0.602
1000

(The 1000 factor converts L/s to m3/s)


m = 0.068 600 = 40.8 lb /min
2

The mass flow rate in Section 3 is calculated using Equation


2 as:
=m
+m
= 22.2 + 40.8 = 63 lb /min
m
3
1
2
m
[0.18 + 0.32 = 0.50 kg/s]
Neglecting the heat loss in the short 10 ft (3 m) lengths, the
duct leaving temperatures are assumed to be the same as the
entering temperature. The temperature of the air entering Section 3 can therefore be calculated using Equation 8 as:
22.2 500 + 40.8 70
t3 =
= 222F
63
0.18 260 + 0.32 20

= 106C

0.5

ASHRAE Journal

ASHRAE Journal
Knowing the temperature allows us to calculate the density
in Section 3 as:
530 27
3
3 = 0.075
= 0.053 lbm /ft

460 + 222 29.921

293 91.4
3
1.204 273 + 106 101.325 = 0.84 kg/m

The airflow rate in Section 3 is calculated by dividing the


mass flow rate by the density.
Q3 =

63
= 1189 cfm
0.053

0.50

0.84 1000 = 595 L/s

3406
PV 3 = 0.053
= 0.51 in.w.g.
1097

18.9 2
= 150 Pa
0.84
2

Inlet Losses
Inlet total pressure losses are determined by multiplying the
inlet loss coefficient times the sections velocity pressure.
pt , inlet 1 = 0.93 0.29 = 0.27 in. w.g.
[0.93 67 = 62 Pa]
pt, inlet 2 = 0.93 x 0.53 = 0.49 in. w.g.
[0.93 121 = 113 Pa]

Friction Losses
From the ASHRAE friction chart in Chapter 32 of the FundaWe want to size Section 3 to maintain 3,000 fpm (15 m/s)
carrying velocity. To do this, we divide the airflow rate by the mentals handbook, the friction loss rates at standard condidesired velocity to determine the required area, then solve for tions are:
f ,1 f , 2
the diameter.
,
= 2.2 in.w.g./10 0 ft (16 Pa/m)
595
2
1189
100 100
2

=
1000
39
,
666
mm
A3 =
= 0.396 ft
15

f ,3
3000
= 1.8 in.w.g./100 ft (14 Pa/m)
100
4 39,666

4 0.396
D3 =
12 = 8.5 in.
= 225 mm
The friction losses at standard conditions are calculated as:

10
This size should be rounded down to a standard available
p f,1 , p f,s = 2.2
= 0.22 in.w.g. [16 3 = 48 Pa ]
100
size to maintain the carrying velocity, so we will use an 8-in.
(200-mm) diameter.
20
[14 6 = 84 Pa ]
p f ,3 = 1.8
= 0.36 in.w.g
The next step is to determine the areas, velocities, and veloc100
ity pressures in each section. These factors are needed to deThe correction factors from Equation 12 and Equation 13 are:
termine loss coefficients and pressure losses.
0.825
0.825
530
293
2

=
,
K
62

160

= 0.61

t1
= 20,106 mm 2
A1, A2 =
= 0.196 ft2
460 + 500

273 + 260

4144
4

Kt = 1
2
82

200 2
2
0.825
0.825
2
A3 =
= 0.349 ft
=
31
,
416
mm
530
293

=
K
,

4 144

= 0.81
4
t
3

460 + 222
273 + 106

600
300

V1 , V 2 =
= 3061 fpm
0.9
0.9
27 91.4
0.196
20,106 1000 = 14.9 m/s
K , K , K =
,
= 0.91

1
2
3
29.921 101.325
1189
595

V3 =
= 3406 fpm
The friction losses at actual conditions become:
0.349
31,416 1000 = 18.9 m/s

pf1 = 0.22 0.61 0.91 = 0.12 in. w.g.


From Equation 15:
[48 0.61 0.91 = 27 Pa]
2

3061
PV 1 = 0.0375
= 0.29 in.w.g.
1097

14.9 2

= 67 Pa
0
.
602

3061
PV 2 = 0.068
= 0.53 in.w.g.
1097

14.9 2
= 121 Pa
1.086
2

ASHRAE Journal

pf 2 = 0.22 1 0.91 = 0.20 in. w.g.


[48 1 0.91 = 27 Pa]
pf 3 = 0.36 0.81 0.91 = 0.27 in. w.g.
[84 0.81 0.91 = 62 Pa]
Junction Losses
From the ASHRAE Duct Fitting Database for fitting ED5-2
(Wye, 45, Converging), the loss coefficient Cs for the main
flow (Section 1 to Section 3) referenced to Section 1 is 0.19. The
loss coefficient Cb for the intersecting branch referenced to the
branch is 0.48.
The total pressure losses of the junction fitting are calculated
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April 2001

Pressure Loss
as:
pt,13 = Cs pv1 = 0.19 0.29 = 0.05 in. w.g. [0.19 67 = 13 Pa]
pt,23 = Cb pv2 = 0.48 0.53 = 0.25 in. w.g. [0.48 121 = 58 Pa]
System Pressure Losses and Balancing
To determine the system pressure requirements, the total pressure loss for each section is calculated, then the individual
section losses are summed.
Section 1 Losses = Inlet + Friction + Junction
= 0.27 + 0.12 + 0.05 = 0.44 in. w.g.
[62 + 27 + 13 = 102 Pa]
Section 2 Losses = Inlet + Friction + Junction
= 0.49 + 0.20 + 0.25 = 0.94 in. w.g.
[113 + 44 + 62 = 219 Pa]
Section 3 Losses = Friction
= 0.27 in. w.g. (62 Pa)
Path 1 3 Pressure Loss = 0.44 + 0.27 = 0.71 in. w.g.
[102 + 62 = 164 Pa]
Path 2 3 Pressure Loss = 0.94 + 0.27 = 1.21 in. w.g.
[219 + 62 = 281 Pa]
The fan must be sized to provide an airflow in Section 3 of 1189
cfm (595 L/s) at a temperature of 222F (106C) and a total pressure of 1.21 in. w.g. (281 Pa) at the fan inlet. Fan manufacturers
ratings tables are based on air at standard temperature and pressure. When using the fan manufacturers rating table to select
fans for duty at non-standard conditions, choose the fan for the
volume airflow (cfm or L/s) at actual conditions. Multiply the
calculated fan total pressure required at actual conditions by the
ratio of standard density to actual density to determine the fan
total pressure at standard conditions for picking the fan. Because lower density makes it more difficult to develop pressure,
a fan that must produce 1.21 in. w.g. (281 Pa) of pressure moving
air at a density of 0.055 lbm/ft3 [0.89 kg/m3] will have to be capable of developing 1.65 in. w.g. [383 Pa] at standard conditions.
Horsepower also varies with the density ratio. The lower
density at hot conditions means the fan requires less power
than at standard conditions. A fan selected for hot duty might
need a larger motor for start up at cold conditions than to run at
design conditions.

April 2001

The pressure drop from one point (the room) to any other
point (the fan inlet) must be the same regardless of the path the
air takes. Because Path 13 requires only 0.71 in. w.g. (164 Pa),
Section 1 will need an additional pressure drop to make the pressure drop in Path 13 equal to the pressure drop in Path 23.
Otherwise, the airflow in Path 13 would increase and the airflow
in Path 23 would decrease to make the pressure drops equal.
The additional pressure drop can be achieved by adding a damper,
reducing the duct size, increasing airflow, or a combination of the
three.
Summary
Even though Sections 1 and 2 have the same design airflow
rates, they have much different pressure requirements. The pressure loss for Section 1 is only 0.44 in. w.g. (102 Pa) compared to
0.94 in. w.g. (219 Pa) for Section 2. Part of this difference is due
to the higher pressure loss through the branch of a junction
compared to the main. However, most of the difference results
because the less dense air in Section 1 creates lower pressure
drops.
Since Sections 1 and 2 are not naturally in balance, too much
air would be pulled from Section 1 and not enough from Section
2, possibly causing fallout of particulate in Section 2. Design
changes will be needed to bring Section 1 into balance. If actual
conditions and the density corrections not had been used to
calculate the pressure losses, the degree of imbalance would
not have been known. The actual conditions at the fan inlet
would also not have been known, and the fan would not have
been sized properly.
References
1. 1997 ASHRAE HandbookFundamentals, Chap. 32.
2. 1997 ASHRAE HandbookFundamentals, Chap. 6.
3. ASHRAE Duct Fitting Loss Coefficient Tables.
4. ASHRAE Duct Fitting Database.
5. ASHRAE Terminology of Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning
& Refrigeration, Section I Terms and Definitions, December 8, 1989.

Editorial Note
For information on the basics of duct pressure drop calculations for air at standard conditions, see Brooks, P. 1995. Duct
design fundamentals. ASHRAE Journal 37(4):6976.

ASHRAE Journal