You are on page 1of 7

An Analysis of Major and Minor Losses in

Pipes and Fittings


Roger Smith
Team 3

Abstract. In pipes, major loss in straight sections is caused by friction and minor loss is caused
by fittings, both resulting in a drop in pressure. Major and minor losses can substantially affect
the effectiveness and efficiency of a given fluid transport system. Experiments were performed to
measure the effect of diameter on the Darcy friction factor (f) in two five-foot copper pipe
sections using a Technovate fluid circuit system and the effect of fitting type on the minor loss
coefficient (" ) for a long elbow, sudden enlargement, sudden contraction, medium elbow, short
elbow, and right-angle fitting using a Edibon Energy Losses in Bends Module FME05. Friction
factors obtained ranged from 0.0023 to 0.0192 for the smaller (9.53-mm-diameter) pipe section
and from 0.0005 to 0.0260 for the larger (12.7-mm-diameter) pipe section, with values that most-
closely reflected theoretical values occurring with higher pressure drop readings and velocity
squared values. The highest minor loss coefficients were also observed at higher velocity
squared values and pressure drop readings, with average values ranging from a low of 0.08 for
the sudden enlargement fitting to a high of 0.46 for the right-angle fitting.

Keywords: Major loss, minor loss, Darcy friction factor, minor loss coefficient, Colebrook
equation

Introduction

A pressure drop occurs when a flow experiences friction in a straight pipe section, and this loss is
referred to as major loss. Pressure loss that occurs when a fluid encounters fittings, such as
values, bends, inlets, outlets, expansions, or contractions is (typically, although not always) less
substantial when compared to frictional effects and, as a result, referred to as minor loss. The
properties and effects of major and minor losses apply to numerous man-made and natural
phenomena, ranging from large-scale industrial systems to microscopic biological systems and
compose a significant consideration when designing fluid transport systems. The design of
nuclear reactors, for example, involves a very careful development of such systems and the
losses involved, as piping geometry and loss-of-coolant play a very important role in the overall
effectiveness and safety of the system (Bowden and Yang, 2016).

This lab seeks to develop a deeper understanding of major and minor losses and the physical
properties related to each.

Objectives

The objectives of these experiments were to (1) measure the effect of pipe diameter on friction
factor (major loss) and (2) measure the effect of fittings (minor loss) in pipes with flowing fluid.

1
Materials and Methods

Equipment
The equipment used for this lab was a Technovate fluid circuit system for the major loss portion
and an Edibon Energy Losses in Bends Module FME05, pictured below, for the minor loss
portion.

Edibon Energy Losses in Bends Module FME05

Procedure

Major Loss
Two five-foot pipe sections with diameters of 9.53 mm and 12.7 mm were observed. The flow
rate of the system was controlled with a valve, and six readings for pressure drop across the
orifice and pipe section were recorded. The data collected began in full flow and became more
restricted as the valve was tightened following each incremental reading taken.

Pressure drop across the orifice was used to determine the volumetric flow rate (), while
pressure drop across the pipe () was used to calculate the friction factor (). The pressure drop
across the orifice was multiplied by water density of 998.3 kg m-3 and gravity to arrive at
pressure loss value in pascal units. The pressure drop across the pipe was kept in terms of head
loss (m). The data obtained was entered into Microsoft Excel for analysis and evaluated with
theoretical equations listed below. The properties of water at room temperature of 20C were
used for all calculations.

Volumetric flow rate was calculated according to the following equation:

,.
= (1)
r 56b7

where:
= cross-sectional area of orifice (m2)

2
89
r = density of water :;
= discharge coefficient of orifice
= pressure drop across orifice (Pa)
:;
= volumetric flow rate 89
:
b = orifice inner diameter to outer diameter ratio

:

The discharge coefficient ( ), inner orifice diameter and outer orifice diameter were provided

with values of 0.656, 0.015875 m, and 0.026035 m, respectively. The diameter ratio (b ) was

calculated from the inner and outer orifice diameter values.

Once volumetric flow rate was known, the Darcy friction factor was obtained by rearranging the
following equation:

" ?@
=
(2)
> ,9

where:
= head loss across pipe section (m)

= friction factor
:
= gravity B@

L = pipe length (m)


:
= velocity B

= pipe diameter (m)


Velocity () was calculated by dividing the volumetric flow rate by the cross-sectional area of
each pipe, using inner diameter values of 6.29 mm and 8.38 mm, per typical ratio diameter
values for copper pipes derived from the Engineering Toolbox online resource. Known values
for the equation were entered for each velocity squared ( , ) value, and theoretical values were
calculated using the Colebrook equation, using a pipe roughness () value of 0.0015 mm (Cengel
and Cimbala, 2011).

Minor Loss
The Edibon module contained the follow six fittings with corresponding tap numbers: long
elbow (tap 1 and 2), sudden enlargement from 20 to 40 mm (tap 3 and 4), sudden contraction
from 40 to 20 mm (tap 5 and 6), medium elbow (tap 7 and 8), short elbow (tap 9 and 10), and
right-angle miter (tap 11 and 12). All fittings were attached to a shared 20-mm base line.

A control valve was used to control flow rate, and six flow rate and pressure readings were taken
until the right-angle pressure drop nearly leveled-out. The reading intervals were spaced into 30-
second intervals. Because the flow rate volume (in liters) was measured for each interval, the
volumetric flow rate was obtained by dividing volume by each 30 s time interval.

The data obtained was again entered into Microsoft Excel, and the minor loss coefficient (" )
was obtained by rearranging the following equation:

3
?@
= "
(3)
,9

where:
= head loss (m)

" = minor loss coefficient


:
= velocity B

:
= gravity

B@

The cross-sectional area used to determine velocity from volumetric flow rate reading was
calculated using a 20-mm diameter, because that was a pipe diameter that was shared and could
be applied across all fittings for the purposes of calculation.

Head loss () was then plotted across each fitting versus the square of velocity, and theoretical
resistance coefficient values provided by Fox et al were compared to the values calculated from
the data obtained. The minor loss coefficient data was further analyzed using relative error in
order to obtain insight into the magnitude of the difference between the experimental and
theoretical values.

The results and findings of the experiment and subsequent analysis are outlined in the following
section.

Results and Discussion

For the 9.53-mm-diameter pipe section, experimental and theoretical values displayed a
relatively wide discrepancy in value at lower velocity, but trended toward one another as squared
velocity increased. Velocity squared ranged from 8.58 m2 s-2 at full flow to 0.365 m2 s-2 at the
low flow and, correspondingly, the lowest level of pressure drop (62.2 Pa). The friction factor
tended to increase as velocity squared increased for the experimental data, while the friction
factor decreased for the theoretical data, although the highest experimental friction factor
(0.0192) occurred in the middle of the data set (fig. 1).

4
0.040
Experimental Theoretical
0.035

0.030

Friction Factor f 0.025

0.020

0.015

0.010

0.005

0.000
0.00 1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00 6.00 7.00 8.00 9.00 10.00

Square of Velocity (m2/s2)




Figure 1. Experimental and Theoretical results for friction factor versus square of velocity for 9.53-mm-diameter five-foot pipe section.

In regard to friction observed and pressure loss, experimental and theoretical values suggest
friction values may be more accurately reflected when a higher level of pressure loss (and a
higher corresponding velocity squared value) is observed in the pipe.

For the 12.7-mm-diameter pipe section, experimental values, as with the smaller diameter pipe
section, displayed a larger discrepancy at lower squared velocity values but trended toward
equaling out as each increased, per figure 2. A higher velocity squared value also corresponded
with a higher pressure drop reading, again suggesting higher pressure loss readings may result in
more accurate friction factor values.

0.035

0.03

0.025
Friction Factor f

0.02

0.015

Experimental Theoretical
0.01

0.005

0
0.00 1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00 6.00 7.00
Square of Velocity (m2/s2)


Figure 2. Experimental and Theoretical results for friction factor versus square of velocity for 12.7-mm-diameter five-foot pipe section.

In regard to minor loss, the average value for all pressure loss readings was used to determine the
experimental loss coefficient for each fitting. The data suggested higher velocity values
translated into a higher loss coefficient (F ) values, and each progressed with a mostly-linear

5
trendline (fig. 3). The right-angle fitting displayed highest resistance coefficient (0.46), while the
sudden enlargement fitting displayed the lowest (0.08).

0.060

0.050 y = 0.0237x
Long Elbow
y = 0.0167x
0.040 Sudden Enlargement
y = 0.0142x
Head Loss (m)

Sudden Contraction
0.030

y = 0.008x Short Elbow


0.020
y = 0.0055x
Right Angle
0.010
Medium Elbow
y = 0.0043x

0.000
0.00 0.50 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50

Square of Velocity (m2/s2)

Figure 3. Head loss versus square of velocity for short, medium and long elbow, enlargement, contraction, and right-angle fittings.


A comparison of experimental and theoretical loss coefficient values are outlined in table 1. All
values obtained reflect a high level of relative error, with values ranging from a high of 86.4%
for the sudden enlargement fitting to a low of 17.7% for the sudden contraction fitting.



Table 1. Minor loss in pipe fittings - experimental and theoretical loss coefficient values and corresponding relative error.
Theoretical
Experimental Loss
Fitting Loss Coefficient Coefficient Relative Error
(K) (K) (%)

Long Elbow 0.16 0.25 36.0%

Sudden Enlargement 0.08 0.59 86.4%

Sudden Contraction 0.33 0.40 17.7%

Medium Elbow 0.11 0.50 78.0%

Short Elbow 0.28 0.74 61.6%

Right Angle Miter 0.46 1.10 57.8%



In order to further analyze the minor loss coefficient data, the conditions under which the
experimental data most-closely resembled theoretical data were considered. The experimental
loss coefficient values for each fitting and corresponding flow velocities were compared to the
theoretical values, and the value that most-closely reflected the theoretical value was marked.
The results are displayed in table 2.

Table 2. Most-closely-related experimental and theoretical resistance coefficient values and corresponding relative error
and square of velocity values.
Fitting Experimental Loss Coefficient Theoretical Loss Coefficient Relative Error Square of Velocity
2 2
(K) (K) (%) (m s )

6
Long Elbow 0.25 0.25 1.00% 0.476

Sudden Enlargement 0.14 0.59 75.9% 0.138

Sudden Contraction 0.41 0.40 3.10% 0.476

Medium Elbow 0.14 0.50 71.5% 0.138

Short Elbow 0.43 0.74 42.3% 0.138

Right Angle Miter 0.54 1.10 51.3% 0.476

While square of velocity values ranged from a high of 2.21 m2 s-2 to a low of 0.138 m2 s-2,
experimental loss coefficient values most closely resembled theoretical values for the long
elbow, sudden contraction, and right-angle values when the square of velocity was at the mid-
range level of 0.476 m2 s-2. The experimental loss coefficient values most closely reflected
theoretical values for the sudden enlargement, medium elbow, and short elbow when the square
of velocity and head loss reached their lowest levels of 0.138 m2 s-2 and 0.001, 0.001, and 0.003,
respectively.

Conclusions

The major loss effect of pipe diameter on friction factor for two five-foot straight copper pipe
sections and the minor loss effect of a long elbow, sudden enlargement, sudden contraction,
medium elbow, short elbow, and right-angle fitting for flowing fluid was observed.

Major and minor loss values most-closely reflected theoretical values when higher pressure drop
readings and velocity squared values were observed. Friction factors for the 9.53-mm-diameter
and 12.7-mm-diameter copper pipe sections obtained ranged from 0.0023 to 0.0192 and from
0.0005 to 0.0260, respectively. Average values for minor loss coefficient values ranged from the
lowest value of 0.08 for the sudden enlargement fitting to the highest value 0.46 for the right-
angle fitting and progressed with a mostly-linear trendline as pressure loss and velocity squared
increased.

References

Bowden, R.; Yang, S. (2016). Experimental Investigation of Two-Phase Bubbly Flow Pressure
Drop Across a Horizon Pipe Containing 90 Bends. CNL Nuclear Rev., 6(1), 55-69.

Cengel, Y.; Cimbala, J. (2011). Fluid Mechanics: Fundamentals and Applications (3rd ed.). New
York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Company.

Fox, R.; McDonald, A., Pritchard, P. (2012). Fluid Mechanics (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John
Wiley & Sons.

Engineering Toolbox. Retrieved November 4, 2017.


https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/copper-tubes-dimensions-d_357.html