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In this chapter the purpose of fluid machines, their application in process
industries and the role of the chemical engineer with respect to fluid machines
is discussed. In addition some basic relevant concepts and terminologies are


In chemical and process industries it is usually required to increase the mechanical energy
of fluids. In moving fluids from one place to another it may be required to increase the
mechanical energy to account for increase in geodetic energy (potential energy), velocity
energy, pressure energy and losses due to fluid friction. In gasses the energy may be
related to moving the gas or compress it. The machines used for this purpose are called
fluid machines.

Fluid machines used to transport liquid are known as pumps. Fans, blowers and
compressors are used to increase the mechanical energy of gasses.

Pumps are used to transport process and service liquids. Fans are used in ventilating
buildings, aerating workstations, exhausting or introducing air or other gasses into
process reactors, dryers, cooling towers, kilns, etc., at relatively low pressure. Fans are
also used in some air-cooled heat exchangers. Blowers and compressors are used to
compress process gas, supplying plant with compressed air, convey solid material in
suspension, exhausting or introducing air into process reactor at higher pressures and
similar processes.

Chapter 1 Introduction 2

The chemical engineer is involved in selecting, installing, operating, testing and

maintaining fluid machines depending on his assignment. To do this effectively the
engineer has to know the system where the fluid machine is to be used and the operating
principles, capability and limitations of the different types of fluid machines. In moving
fluids the most important system parameters are the properties of the fluid (viscosity,
density, composition, vapor pressure, etc.) the flow rate, the specific energy requirement
and the suction condition. In case of compression the important parameters are the
required flow rate, the property of the gas (Molecular weight, specific heat capacity, and
inlet and discharge temperature, viscosity) and the compression ratio. The determination
of these parameters is dealt with in Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics and Substance

This teaching material is intended to introduce the chemical engineer with the most
common fluid machines that he will encounter in the chemical and process industries.
This teaching material covers the characteristic features, operation principles, and the
theory behind the operation principles of various fluid machines. These principles are
used for selection, installation, operation and maintenance of fluid machines.


Mechanical Energy of a flowing fluid is part of the total energy of the fluid that can be
directly and completely converted to work. It is the sum of the potential, kinetic and
pressure energy of the flow medium. Heat and internal energy cannot be completely
converted to work. Energy that is converted to heat or internal energy is lost work or loss
in mechanical energy. Mechanical energy is also known as useful energy.

The specific work of a fluid machine is the useful energy (work) that the machine
transfers or can transfer to the flow medium per unit mass of the fluid. The SI unit of
specific energy is J/kg or m2/s2.

The total head transferred to a flow medium is the specific energy transferred to the fluid
divided by the gravitational acceleration and is the measure of the amount of useful
Chapter 1 Introduction 3

energy (mechanical energy or work) of the flow medium. The term head is more
commonly used in centrifugal pumps. The SI unit of head is meter.
H (1.1)
Y= Specific Work
g=gravitational acceleration.
The head of a pump is the specific energy that the pump can transfer to the flow
medium (liquid) under specified condition divided by the gravitational acceleration.

Example 1.1
The rate of energy transfer from a fluid machine to a flow medium is 40kW and the mass
flow rate of the flow medium is 2kg/s. Calculate the specific energy transferred to the
N= 40kW= 40 kJ/s, mass flow rate= 2kg/s
Total energy transfered per second 40 kJ/s
Specific Energy 20 kJ/kg
Massflow per second 2 kg/s
Example 1.2
Determine the head of the fluid machine in Example 1.1.
Y=20,000 J/kg=20,000 m2/s2
Y 20,000 m 2 /s 2
H 2038.7m
g 9.81 m/s 2

Total Pressure of a Fluid Machine (commonly used for fans and positive displacement
pumps and compressors) is the specific energy that a fluid machine transfers to a flow
medium multiplied by the density of the flow medium.
Pt Y (1.2)
Chapter 1 Introduction 4

Example 1.3
The static pressure, geodetic (potential) and kinetic specific energy transferred by a fan to
a gas are 500 J/kg, 22.5 J/kg and 25 J/kg respectively. Determine the increase in total
pressure of the flow medium. The average density of the flow medium is 1.2 kg/m3.

Y=Ypr +Ygeo + Yvel
Y=500 + 22.5+ 25 =547.5 J/kg
Pt= Y = 1.2 547.5 = 657 Pa
Note that the specific energy, head and total pressure are equivalent terms. All of them
are the measure of the energy transferred from a fluid machine to a flow medium.

The useful power is the rate at which useful energy is transferred to the flow medium.
The SI unit of useful power is kW which is (kJ/s). The useful power is calculated using
Equations 1.3 to 1.5.

N m
Y (1.3)
Since mass flow rate is the product of density and volume flow rate.
N QY (1.4)
Using (1.2) in (1.4)
N QPt (1.5)
The capacity of some fluid machines is not uniform, it varies with time. Pulsation is this
non uniformity of the capacity fluid machines.

Some pumps require that the air in the suction line should be replaced by liquid before
they start pumping. The process of replacing the air in the suction pipe with liquid is
known as priming.
Chapter 1 Introduction 5

Absolute pressure (static) of a fluid on a surface is the normal force exerted by the fluid
per unit area of the surface.

Gauge Pressure is the pressure above the atmospheric pressure. Hence,

Absolute Pressure = Gauge Pressure + Atmospheric Pressure

Vacuum Pressure is the pressure below the atmospheric pressure.

Absolute Pressure = Atmospheric Pressure - Vacuum Pressure

Continuity Equation

A1 A2

Input Process Output

Figure 1.1 The continuity equation

For a steady state process (no accumulation)

Rate of mass input = Rate of mass output
1Q1 2 Q2
m (1.6a)
1 A1 c1 2 A2 c2
m (1.6b)
For incompressible fluid
A1c1 A2 c2 (1.7)
m =mass flow rate [kg/s] Q=Volume flow rate [m3/s]
c= velocity of the flow medium A= Flow Area

Loss of Head is loss of the useful head of the flow medium due to fluid friction or the
turbulence that occurs when the fluid passes an obstruction, sudden contraction or sudden
expansion, etc.

Temperature scales
There are two temperature scales in common use. These are the degree Fahrenheit and
degree Celsius.
Chapter 1 Introduction 6

C ( 0 F 32) (1.8)
F ( 0 C ) 32 (1.9)
Absolute Temperatures
Degree Kelvin (K)
K 0C 273.15 (1.10)
Degree Rankine (0R)
R 0F 460 (1.11)
Ideal Gas Law
PV nRT (1.12)
P= Absolute Pressure [Pa]
V=Volume of Gas[m3]
n=number of moles of the gas [kmol]
R= universal gas constant =8314.3 J/kmol K


Production processes in a process plant usually involve a number of unit operations that
are carried out at different places in the plant. Due to this, it is a common practice to
move process liquids and utilities from one place to another in which different unit
operations are involved in between.

In a wine factory for example, fresh grape is crushed and collected below the crushing
machine and sent to fermentation tanks. Wine is moved from tank to tank to separate the
clear wine from the unwanted settled mass. Fermented wine from the cellar is filtered and
sent to tanks in the filling room. From this temporary storage tank it should be pumped to
the filling machine. This movement of liquid requires energy at each stage. Figure 1.2
shows a schematic diagram that illustrates a typical pumping system for moving liquid
from Tank 1 to Tank 2 with a heat exchanger in between.
Chapter 1 Introduction 7




Figure 1.2 A pumping system

Detailed discussion of the energy requirement of pumping systems can be found from
fluid mechanics books. Procedures for calculating the energy losses in various unit
operations are available in relevant literatures. In this section a summary of the basic
concept is discussed.

The amount of energy required by a flow medium is the sum of the potential energy,
kinetic energy and pressure energy differences of the liquid between the suction and
discharge points and the energy loss due to friction loss in the pipe line and unit
operations like the heat exchanger in the mentioned example.
P2 P1 c2 c1
2 2
Y eg F (1.13)
Y= The specific energy that should be transferred from the fluid machine
to the flow medium.
P2 - P1= The static pressure difference between the suction and discharge
end of the pumping system
c1, c2 = The average flow velocities at point 1 and 2 respectively.
e = the elevation difference between 1 and 2.
F = Energy loss due to fluid friction
= Density of the flow medium at the flow condition
Chapter 1 Introduction 8

The energy loss due to fluid friction in simple pipes is the sum of the friction losses in the
straight pipe and minor losses in pipe fittings like elbows, valves and losses due to
sudden contraction and sudden expansion. Equations 1.14 and 1.15 give the formulas for
the straight pipe friction loss and the minor losses respectively.
L c2
Fst , pipe f (1.14)
D 2
Fst , pipe k i (1.15)
It is not only the energy that is a requirement of the pump. In most processes it is required
to transport a defined amount of liquid per unit time. Hence, the capacity, i.e., the volume
the pump delivers per unit time is the other important performance characteristic of the
pump. The rate of energy transfer is known as power and the power that should be
transferred from the fluid machine to a flow medium is the product of the mass flow rate
and the specific energy.

There are various types of pumps. Their difference is mainly due to the fact that different
liquid properties and different performance requirements result in different types of
design. For example, screw pumps are more effective in pumping viscous liquids than
centrifugal pumps. Similarly, temperature, vapor and gas content and solid content are
important fluid properties in this respect. On the other hand, the capacity and head,
uniformity of delivery, price, operating cost, maintenance cost, space requirement, and
weight are some of the important process requirements that may lead to different choices
of pumps.

Example 1.4
Water at 200C should be pumped from Tank 1 to Tank 2 (Figure 1.3) at the rate of
120m3/hr. All pipes in the system are 6-in. schedule 40 commercial steel pipes. The total
length of the straight pipe is 45m. Determine the specific mechanical energy, head and
power that should be transferred to the flow medium to move the water.
Chapter 1 Introduction 9

900 regular elbow



900 regular elbow

Figure 1.3 A pumping system for Example 1.1

Flow medium: water at 200C
Q=120m3/hr =0.0333 m3/s
=998.2 kg/m3
=1.005 10-3 Pa s (viscosity)
D=0.1541m ( Internal Diameter of 6-in Schedule 40 pipe)
Q 0.0333
c 1.79 m/s
D / 4 (0.15412 ) / 4

cD 998.2(1.79)(0.1541)
Re 2.74 10 5
1.005 10 3

The flow is in turbulent region

a) The specific energy requirement of the pumping system
1) Friction loss in the pumping system
i) Contraction loss at the tank exit of Tank 1
k c 0.421 0.42(1 0) 0.42
The specific energy loss due to contraction loss at the exit of Tank 1
c2 1.79 2
F1 kc 0.42 0.67 J / kg
2 2
ii) Friction loss in the straight pipe
The relative friction of commercial steel pipe
4.6 10 5
D 0.1541
Chapter 1 Introduction 10

Re 2.74 105 Calculated above

The friction coefficient from Moody chart with /D=0.00029 and
Re=2.74105 , f=0.0171
L c2 45 1.79 2
F2 f 0.0171 8.0 J/kg
D 2 0.1541 2
iii) Friction loss in the two elbows
c2 1.79 2
F3 2 K 2(0.64) 2.05 J/kg
2 2
iv) Expansion loss at the entrance of Tank 2
k Ex 1 (1 0) 1


c2 1.79 2
F4 k Ex 1 1.60 J/kg
2 2
The total energy loss due to friction
F F1 F2 F3 F4 0.67 8.0 2.05 1.60 12.32 J/kg

2) The static pressure difference P2-P1=0 since both are at the same pressure
3) The geodetic energy difference
Ygeo eg 15(9.81) 147.15 J/kg

4) The velocity energy difference

c2 c1 0 0
2 2
Yvel 0
2 2
Therefore the total specific energy requirement of the pump is
Y 12.35 147.15 159.5 J/kg

b) The total head requirement of the pump is

Y 159.5
H 16.26 m
g 9.81
c) N QY 998.2(0.0333)(159.5) 5301.8W 5.3 kW
Chapter 1 Introduction 11

There are various industrial processes that involve movement of air and other gasses
without significant increase in the static pressure. Ventilation and air conditioning,
feeding of reactors, removal of exhaust gases, feeding of drying air are some of these.
The movement of gasses may be through pipes, tunnels and equipment or may be just in a
room for moving air without piping as in a simple ventilation. To achieve such movement
of gasses energy should be added to the gas in the form of mechanical energy to cover for
the net increases in energy due to difference in potential energy, kinetic energy, pressure
energy and energy loss in the form of fluid friction. The machines used to transfer
mechanical energy to gases at low discharge pressure are known as fans. The calculation
of total pressure (specific energy requirement) and power requirement of systems for
moving gasses with fans is similar to pumps.

Example 1.5
A fan is used to deliver 200m3/hr (measured at the inlet) of methane. The specific energy
requirement of the system is calculated to be 5.4 kJ/kg. The inlet temperature and
pressure are 120C and 100 kPa respectively. Determine the total pressure and the useful
power that should be transferred to the flow medium.

Flow Medium: Methane
Y=5.4 kJ/kg
P1=100 kPa

Density of the gas at the inlet condition assuming ideal gas

P1 M (100 10 3 )16
0.675 kg/m 3
RT1 (8314.3)(285.15)
The total pressure, from (1.2)
Chapter 1 Introduction 12

Pt Y 0.675(5.4) 3.645Pa
The useful power transferred to the flow medium is
N QPt (3645) 78975W 79.0 kW
The types of fans in common industrial use are not as many as pumps. However, there are
still numerous various types of fans. The property of the gas (temperature, pressure, dust
content, etc) and performance requirements (capacity, total pressure, noise level, total
pressure-capacity relation, space requirement, simplicity for cleaning,) are some of the
factors that determine the type of fan to be used.

Compressors and blowers

Compressed air is one of the most common utility in process industries. Among other
purposes it is used for most automatic control systems and for cleaning, pneumatic
conveying. In liquefaction of gasses and process that depend on them (like separation)
compression is a very important step. Various gas phase reactions that take place at high
pressures are also core in some chemical production, like ammonia production.
Compression process requires large amount of energy. The machines used to transfer
mechanical energy in compression process to gasses are known as compressors.

The energy requirement in compression process depends on the type of compression.

There are two types of ideal compressions: adiabatic compression and isothermal
compression. Adiabatic compression is carried out with no heat transfer between the gas
and the surrounding. The adiabatic compression specific energy for compressing a gas
from a suction temperature T1 and pressure P1 is given by Equation 1.16.

RT1 k P2
( k 1) / k

Yad 1 (1.16)
M k 1 P1

Yad= The adiabatic compression specific energy requirement
R= Universal gas constant = 8314.3 J/kg K
T1= The suction temperature
M= Molecular weight of the gas to be compressed
P2= Final pressure
Chapter 1 Introduction 13

P1=Initial pressure
P1/P2= compression ratio
k=ratio of specific heats k=Cp/Cv
The power requirement in adiabatic compression is given by :
N ad m
Yad (1.17)
Isothermal compression is carried out under constant temperature. The specific energy
requirement for compressing gas under isothermal compression is given by
Equation 1.18. For the same compression ratio and flow medium isothermal compression
requires less compression energy than adiabatic compression.

RT 1 P2
Yiso ln (1.18)
M P1

The power requirement for isothermal compression of a gas is given by Equation 1.19

Niso m
Yiso (1.19)

Example 1.6
It is required to compress 0.02 k mol/s of air from 1 atm and 250C to 6 atm. Calculate the
specific energy requirement and the compression power (i) for adiabatic compression
(ii) for isothermal compression.

Flow medium: Air
T1=250C =298.15K
P1=1 atm
P2=6 atm
M=28.9 kg/kmol
Molar flow rate =0.02 kmol/s
i) Adiabatic compression

RT1 k P2 8314.3(298.15) 1.44 6 (1.441) /1.44

( k 1) / k

Yad 1 1
M k 1 P1 28.9 1.44 1 1

= 204615 J / kg
Chapter 1 Introduction 14

The mass flow rate is given by

M molar flow rate 28.9(0.02) 0.578 kg/s
The power requirement for adiabatic compression
Nad m
Yad 0.578(204615) 118267.5 W 118.3 kW

ii) Isothermal compression

RT1 P2 8314.3(298.15) 6
Yiso ln ln 153689 J/kg
M P1 28.9 1

The power requirement for isothermal compression

Niso m
Yiso 0.578(153689) 88832W 88.83 kW

Note that adiabatic compression for the condition in Example 1.6 consumes around 33%
more power than the isothermal compression. In general adiabatic compression consumes
more energy than isothermal compression and the difference in the energy increases as
the compression ratio increases. On the other hand to bring a compression process close
to isothermal condition we need an effective cooling system.

Based on the property of the gas to be compressed, performance and safety requirements
there are various types of compressors that are effective. The most important gas
properties are composition, temperature, molecular weight, specific heat ratio. Flow rate,
compression ration (Discharge Pressure/ Suction Pressure), discharge temperature are
some of the most important performance requirements. Compression processes involve
increase in temperature and if the compression ratio is very high the increase in
temperature becomes unsafe hence the design of compressors in such cases must ensure
that the safety limit is not exceeded.
Chapter 1 Introduction 15

1. What is the main purpose of fluid machines?

2. What is the role of the chemical engineer in tasks related to fluid machines?

3. What is the difference between the mechanical energy and the total energy
transferred to a flow medium?

4. The inlet temperature of a flowing gas is measured to be 82.40C. What is the

temperature in K,0F and 0R.

5. It is required to ventilate a workshop using fan. The total pressure requirement

of the designed flow system is calculated to be 100mm of water (density
1000kg/m3). The volume flow rate required is 28,000m3/min measured at
inlet. The inlet temperature and pressure are 200C and 1.01bar respectively.
Determine the useful power that the fan has to deliver to the air.

6. A pump draws 320m3/hr of liquid solution having a density of 1402 Kg/m3

from an open storage tank of large cross-sectional area trough a 8-in schedule
40 pipe. The end of the discharge line is 6-in schedule 40 pipe to an open
overhead tank. The end of the discharge line is 16m above the level of the
liquid. The friction losses in the piping system are 6.4 m. calculate the useful
head and power that should be transferred to the liquid by the pump.

7. A compressor is required to compress 1000m3/min (at the inlet condition) of

air to 4 atm. The inlet temperature and pressure are 150C and 1atm
respectively. Calculate the useful specific energy and power that should be
transferred to the gas assuming (i) adiabatic compression (ii) isothermal
Chapter 1 Introduction 16

OPERATIONS, 3rd Edition, Prentice-Hall International,Inc,1993.
[1.2] White, F.M., Fluid Mechanics, 2nd Edition, McGraw-Hill International
Edition, 1986.
[1.3] Rao, N. S. G., Fluid Flow Machines, Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1983.
[1.4] Perry, H.R., Green,D., Perrys Chemical Engineers Handbook , 6th
editions,1984, McGraw-Hill.