# Friction Factor for Turbulent Pipe Flow

By Achanta Ramakrishna Rao1 and Bimlesh Kumar2

Abstract: Present paper proposes a universal resistance equation relating friction factor (λ), the Reynolds number (R) and roughness height (k) for the entire range of turbulent flow in pipes covering all the three regimes: smooth, transition and rough. Experimental data of Nikuradse and others were used. Such an equation is found to be sufficient to predict the friction factor for all ranges of R (≥4000) and different values of k. Present model is found to be equally valid for both cases of commercially available pipes and Nikuradse experiments on sand roughened pipes.

INTRODUCTION The head loss (hf) due to friction undergone by a fluid motion in a pipe is usually calculated through the Darcy-Weisbach relation as;

hf =λ

L u2 D 2g

(1)

In this Eq. (1) λ is the or Darcy friction factor, L is the characteristics length of the pipe, D is the diameter of the pipe, u is the velocity of the flow of liquid and g is the acceleration due to the gravity. The friction factor (λ ) is a measure of the shear stress (or shear force per unit area) that the turbulent flow exerts on the wall of a pipe; it is

1 2

Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IISc, Bangalore-560012, India. Research Scholar, Department of Civil Engineering, IISc, Bangalore-560012, India.

in turbulent flow (R≥ 4000). is defined as ūD/ν. R. called as transition regime in which the friction factor rises above the smooth value and is a function of both k and R and as R increases more and more. When k/D is of a significant value. the flow eventually reaches a fully rough regime in which λ is independent of R. k/D. When k is very small compared to the pipe diameter D i. the flow can be considered as in smooth regime (there is no effect of roughness). the viscous sub layer completely submerges the effect of k on the flow. the friction factor λ is a function of R and is independent of the effect of k on the flow. at low R. and calculated from the well-known Hagen-Poiseuille equation: λ= 64 R (2) Where. ρ is the density of the liquid that flows in the pipe and ū the mean velocity of the flow. τ is the shear stress. R ≤ 2100). the friction factor. The general behavior of turbulent pipe flow in the presence of surface roughness is well established. λ depends only on R.customarily expressed in dimensionless form as λ = τ/ρū2. k/D→0.e. the flow becomes transitionally rough. k is the average roughness height of the pipe. λ depends upon the Reynolds number (R) and on the relative roughness of the pipe. where. the friction factor is linearly dependent on R. For laminar flow (Reynolds number. the Reynolds number. . where. In this case. Whereas. As R increases. In a smooth pipe flow. Nikuradse (1933) had verified the Prandtl’s mixing length theory and proposed the following universal resistance equation for fully developed turbulent flow in smooth pipe.

Eq. Eq. Because of Moody’s work and the demonstrated applicability of Colebrook-White equation over a wide range of Reynolds numbers and relative roughness value k/D. the equation universally adopted is due to Colebrook and White (1937) proposed the following equation. 1 ⎛ k D 2. The following form of the equation is first derived by Von Karman (Schlichting. Moody (1944) presented a friction diagram for commercial pipe friction factors based on the Colebrook–White equation.7065 + ⎟ λ R λ ⎠ ⎝ (5) Equation (5) covers not only the transition region but also the fully developed smooth and rough pipes. (5) becomes Eq.74 λ ⎝k⎠ (4) For transition regime in which the friction factor varies with both R and k/D. By putting k→ 0.8 ( ) (3) In case of rough pipe flow. (3) for smooth pipes and as R→∞. which has been extensively used for practical applications. 1979) and later supported by Nikuradse’s experiments.1 λ = 2 log R λ − 0. the viscous sub layer thickness is very small when compared to roughness height and thus the flow is dominated by the roughness of the pipe wall and λ is the function only of k/D and is independent of R. (5) reduces to Eq. Eq. (4) for rough pipes. 1 ⎛D⎞ = 2 log ⎜ ⎟ + 1. (5) has become the accepted standard for .5226 ⎞ = − 2 log ⎜ ⎟ ⎜ 3.

calculating the friction factors. continuous-interior. The researchers of the Bureau of Reclamation (1965) found that some of the field data collected could not be explained by the Colebrook–White equation. from being an implicit equation in λ and thus requires an iterative solution. The friction factor determined from laboratory . several researchers have found that the Colebrook–White equation is inadequate for pipes smaller than 2. quite different from those obtained in the laboratory when using the Colebrook–White equation. since the variation of the data followed the curve of transitional turbulent flow which is omitted in the composition of the Colebrook–White equation. girthriveted. many alternative explicit equations have been developed to avoid the iterative process inherent to the Colebrook. Due to large variations in the field data. however. The Bureau of Reclamation report (1965) asserted that the Colebrook–White equation was found inadequate over a wide range of flow conditions. They recommended using larger values of the proportionality factor for smaller-size pipes. Wesseling and Homma (1967) suggested using a Blasius-type equation or a power law with minor modifications instead of the Colebrook–White equation. Since the mid-1970s.5 mm. Moreover. they tend to be less universally accepted. The U. It suffers.White equation.S. These equations give a reasonable approximation. Bureau of Reclamation (1965) reported large amounts of field data on commercial pipes: concrete. however. Their computation results were. and full-riveted steel pipes. Von Bernuth and Wilson (1989) conducted laboratory experiments and attempted to find the optimum value of the roughness height of PVC pipes for the Colebrook–White equation and then the value of the friction factor of PVC pipes. Instead they proposed to employ a Blasiustype equation with minor modifications. average friction factors were used for simplicity. however.

data decreases with an increase in the Reynolds number even after a certain critical value.e. ‘a’ and ‘b’ are constants. As seen from the Eqs. yu ν u = A ln * u* a y k u = A ln b u* For smooth pipes and (6) For rough pipes (7) Where ‘A’. the characteristic length l for non-dimensionalising the depth y is ν/u* for smooth turbulent flows and k for rough turbulent flows. whereas the friction factor of the Colebrook–White equation tends to be constant with an increase in the Reynolds number. smooth to rough turbulent flows. i. u is the velocity at a distance y measured from the pipe wall. PROPOSED MODEL The established laws of velocity distribution for turbulent flows are given by. Motivation has thus existed for attempting to develop a universal resistance equation covering the entire ranges of turbulent flows. Zagarola (1996) has indicated that the Prandtl’s law of flow in smooth pipes was not accurate for high Reynolds numbers and the ColebrookWhite correlation (which was based on the Prandtl’s law of flow) is not accurate at high Reynolds numbers. u* is the friction velocity.. k is the roughness height and n is the kinematic viscosity of the fluid. which can be applicable to all the ranges of R and for all values of k/D. 6 and 7. So it is proposed that l is actually a linear combination of both (ν/u* and k) with a correction .

Eq. Eq. the second term becomes important allowing the neglect of the first term. Thus the resistance equation for pipes covering the smooth.factor. if a condition that φ ( R* ) =1 for both when R*→0 and ∞ is imposed. So also for small values of ν/u*. transition and rough regimes of turbulent flows. R* is the friction Reynolds number and defined equal to ku*/ν. u = A ln u* y (a ν u* ⇒ A ln ( y k a + b )φ ( R* ) R* (9) + bk )φ ( R* ) Now. Thus l =( a ν u* + bk )φ ( R* ) (8) Where. transition and rough regimes can be expressed as. From the relation λ = 8(u*/ū) 2. smooth. 9 can be converted into the equation for the friction factor covering the whole ranges of turbulent flows. Thus the velocity laws covering all the regions can be summarized as.. pipe is said to be in smooth condition and for rough pipe R*→∞. 1 ⎛r k⎞ = 2 log ⎜ ⎜B ⎟ ⎟ λ ⎝ * ⎠ (10) . 6 and 7 respectively. At R*→0. For large values of ν/u* the term aν/u* dominates making the second term bk negligible in comparison with it.e. 9 reduces to Eqs. covering the all ranges i.

01 0. φ ( R* ⎡ ⎛ R ⎞⎤ − 0.1 1 10 100 1000 10000 R* Figure 1: Validation of the proposed model .55e 2 (12) The validity of the expression for B* along with φ(R*) is shown in Figure 1 by using the Nikuradse’s experimental data.5 ⎠ ⎦ ) = 1 − 0.⎡ a + bR* ⎤ Where. the following values of a = 0. 10 Nikuradse's Experimental data r / k =507 r / k =252 r / k =126 r / k =60 r / k =30.1 0.33 ⎢ln⎜ * ⎟ ⎥ ⎣ ⎝ 6. B* = ⎢ ⎥Φ ( R* ) ⎣ R* ⎦ (11) By analyzing Nikuradse’s data on pressure drop measurements in sand roughened pipes.135 has been found and Φ(R*) is given by.444 and b= 0.6 r / k =15 φ( 1 ) R* B* 0.

060 0.6 60 126 252 507 Turbulent Flow 3 4 5 6 λ 0. 2004 0. resistance equation is also plotted for the most recent experimental pipe friction data on smooth pipes (McKeon et al.050 0.040 0.045 r / k =15. 10 satisfactorily fits the entire data of Nikuradse on sand roughened pipes for varying relative roughness heights.030 0..The friction diagram based on Nikuradse’s experimental data on the sand roughened pipe is shown in Figure 2. Nikuradse's Experimental data r / k =507 r / k =252 r / k =126 r / k =60 r / k =30.010 10 10 10 10 R Figure 2: Friction factor diagram The resistance equation.6 r / k =15 McKeon et al. as given by Eq. 2004). .025 0.015 0.0 30.020 0.035 0. In addition to Nikuradse’s experimental data.065 0.055 0. Thus a universal resistance equation is developed in the form of Eq. (10).

62(k/D) 0.8506 ⎞⎤ k 5. the most promising equations on friction factor have appeared as follows: 1. 4.094 (k/D) 0. (13) 2.REVIEW OF EQUATIONS ON FRICTION FACTOR During the past years since Moody’s chart.7)+(7/R)0.8981 ⎟⎥ ⎜ 2.0452 ⎟⎥ log ⎜ = − 2 log ⎢ − + ⎜ ⎟ 0.134.53(k/D) +0.9)]16 and B = (37530/R)16.9 ⎟⎥ ⎜ ⎟ ⎣ ⎝ D R ⎠⎦ 2 (14) 3.74 ⎞⎤ ⎢log ⎜ + 0.8257 ⎝ D ⎠ 3.04. Swamee and Jain (1976): They proposed the equation covering the range of R from 5000 to 107 and the values of k/D between 0.05 as: λ= 0. Wood (1966): It is valid for R > 10000 and 10-5 < ε/D< 0.225. 1 ⎡ ⎛ 1 ⎛ k ⎞1.1098 5. Churchill (1977): The author claimed that his equation holds for all R and k/D and has the following form: ⎛ ⎛ 8 ⎞12 λ = 8⎜ ⎜ ⎟ + ( A + B )− 3 ⎜⎝ R ⎠ ⎝ 2⎟ ⎞ ⎟ ⎠ 1 12 (15) Where A = [-2log(((k/D)/3. b = 88(k/D) 0.44 and C =1. λ = a + b R −c Where a = 0. Chen (1979): He also proposed equation for friction factor covering all the ranges of R and k/D.7065 D R ⎢ λ R ⎠⎦ ⎝ ⎣ (16) .00004 and 0.25 ⎡ ⎛ k 5.

7 D λ ⎜ ⎜ ⎝ ⎞ ⎟ ⎟ ⎟ 0.02 13 ⎞ ⎞⎤ 5.11 6. Barr (1981): He proposed the equation as: ⎛ ⎜ ⎜ 1 k = − 2 log ⎜ + ⎜ 3.7 D ⎠ ⎣ ⎦ (20) 9.02 ⎛ k = − 2 log ⎢ − log ⎜ ⎟ ⎜ 3.5 ⎞ ⎛ = − 1.8 log ⎜ 0.52 ⎛ k ⎞ ⎟ ⎟ R R⎜ 1 + ⎜ ⎟ ⎜ 29 ⎝ D⎠ ⎟⎟ ⎝ ⎠⎠ ⎛1 ⎞ 4.7 ⎞ ⎟ ⎛ 1 0.9 ⎤ ⎥ + = − 1.8 log ⎢⎜ ⎟ R⎥ λ ⎢⎝ 3. Round (1980): He proposed the equation in the following form: 1 k 6. Zigrang and Sylvester (1982): They proposed the following equation: 1 ⎡ k ⎛ 1 ⎛ k ⎞ 5. Haaland (1983): He proposed a variation in the effect of the relative roughness by the following expression: 1 ⎡⎛ k ⎞1.518 log ⎜ R ⎟ ⎝7 ⎠ (18) 7.7 ⎜ D ⎟ − R log ⎜ 3. .7 D (19) 8.27 + ⎟ D R ⎠ λ ⎝ (17) 6.5. Manadilli (1997): He proposed the following expressions valid for R ranging from 5235 to 108 and for any value of k/D.7 D + R ⎟ ⎟⎥ R λ ⎠ ⎠⎦ ⎝ ⎝ ⎠ ⎝ ⎣ 3.

thus a new explicit formula for calculating the friction factor.567 ⎜ ⎟⎟ Where. Colebrook-White formula deviates from Nikuradse experimental results in transition range. Present model is equally valid for commercial pipes and sand roughened pipes.3326 ⎞ 0. Romeo et al.827 D ⎜ ⎝ 7.7 D + 0. present model predicts approximately the same λ as predicted by Colebrook-white .9345 ⎞ ⎞ 4. By making correction factor φ(R*) =1. A = log log ⎜ ⎜ − +⎜ ⎟ ⎟ ⎜ 3.7065 D ⎦ (22) ⎛ k ⎛ ⎛ k D ⎞ 0.815 + R ⎠ ⎝ ⎠⎠ ⎝ DISCUSSIONS The correlations/friction factor relations shown in the literature have been developed by applying the successive substitution method to the Colebrook-White formula. (10) and Colebrook-white formula. As shown in Figure 3. As discussed. (2002): They proposed the equation as: 1 k 5.7918 ⎠ ⎟⎟ R ⎝ 208.0272 ⎤ ⎡ = − 2 log ⎢ − A⎥ R λ ⎣ 3.983 − R ⎟ λ R ⎠ ⎝ (21) 10.9924 ⎛ 5. comparison are made for prediction of λ over a wide range of k/D by Eq. More accuracy can be achieved by using a large number of internal substitutions to the Colebrook-White formula. Colebrook –White formula is for irregular surface roughness in pipes resulting from the manufacturing process.1 ⎛ k 95 96.82 ⎞ = − 2 log ⎜ ⎟ ⎜ 3. because of their difference in roughness factor.

08 -0. the error ranges from -0.00005 1000000 1E7 1E8 R Figure 3 Prediction for commercial pipe (PM –present model.06 0.03 0.0005 k/D =0.08 λ 0.07 0.12292 to 0.02 0. 0.12292 100 (λCW-λPM) -----------------λPM 0.04 0.12 -0.005 k/D = 0.05 CW CW CW CW k/D = 0.04884%. Figure 4 gives the percentage error in prediction of the friction factor by the present model.04 Average % Error line m m Max = 0.11 0. CW-Colebrook-White formula) 0.04 -0.01 10000 100000 PM PM PM PM k/D =0. As shown.02 -0.0005 k/D = 0.14 1000000 1E7 1E8 R Figure 4 Percentage of error in the estimation of λ with Colebrook-White formula .04884 and Min = -0.10 0.05 0.10 -0.08 0.05 k/D =0.005 k/D =0.00005 k/D = 0.09 0.02 0. making the present model acceptable for commercial pipes.06 -0.formula.06 0.00 -0.

63 S0. Eq. C can be interpreted as C = 14. hydraulic gradient Note: Kinematic Viscosity is assumed as. (5) and Hazen-Williams formula.APPLICATION OF THE PROPOSED MODEL Estimation of head losses due to friction in pipes is an important task in optimization studies and hydraulic analysis of pipelines and water distribution systems. k 7. ν = 10 m /s -6 2 Hazen-Williams. average velocity. It is vital in new pipeline design to have a good estimate of flow capacity as the larger part of the economics will be dependent on this. being empirical. and kinematic viscosity. the Hazen-Williams equation is not dimensionally homogeneous and its ranges of applicability is limited (Liou.01 ν0. By making use of Eq.54 R0. 200 190 180 Roughness Height. C is the Hazen-Williams constant. average velocity 3 = Q m /s.1 microns 23.07 λ-0. 1998). ν. hydraulic engineers use the HazenWilliams formula (V=0.849 C Rh0. However. discharge = hf /L. is implying that C is a function of R.54.01 k-0. k. friction factor = U m/s. C 170 160 150 140 130 120 -8 10 10 -7 10 -6 1x10 -5 1x10 -4 10 -3 10 -2 10 -1 10 0 10 1 10 2 10 3 Hydraulic Parameter (friction factor. where. (1).08. 1998).1 microns = λ. discharge and hydraulic gradient) Relationship Between Hazen Williams C and Hydraulic Parameters Figure 4 Variations in C . In most cases.06 (k/D)0. C is also found to be dependent on pipe diameter (Liou. k/D. Rh is the hydraulic radius of the pipe and S is the slope) to characterize the roughness of the pipe’s inner surface.

(A). proposed model predicts reasonably well in the entire turbulent ranges of pipe flow and equally valid in case of commercial pipes as well as sand roughened pipes. As discussed. the recommended value of C is 130 and for design purpose. i. Eng.. N. Engrs. Fundam.1981.Proc. Chem. Civil.M.”.. 1979. CONCLUSION Based on the Nikuradse’s experimental data. Proc. 3.H. . “An Explicit Equation for Friction factor in Pipe”. for cast iron new pipe. Part 2.IS-SP35:1987 (Handbook on water supply and Drainage with Special Emphasis on Plumbing) gives the values of Hazen-Williams constant ‘C’ in some ranges for different types of pipe materials. this can be used as an alternative of Hazen-Williams formula in designing the pipeline. Churchill. R. it is 130.. Ind. C. Barr. 71. Chen. an improved version of equation on friction factor covering the whole turbulent flow range flow has been presented.. Eng. Chem. Vol.F. “Friction factor equations spans all fluid-flow ranges.Soc. assuming C as constant is hazardous.1937. 161. S. Colebrook. Reference: 1. 3.. C. 2. D. No. As shown in Figure 4.1977. Inst. 18.. 91.. 4. and White.H.”. “Solutions of the Colebrook-White functions for resistance to uniform turbulent flows.W.”. “Experiments with Fluid friction roughened pipes.e. 296-297.I.

9..1944. Romeo. 2004.” Engineering Monograph. Chem. J. Div. and Jain. ASME. J. P. Ing. Hydr. McKeon. 1979. 11.. B..Fluid Mechanics. C. Bureau of Reclamation.McGraw–Hill.”. E. H.. Forsch. J..F. A. 1998.. Washington. Dtsch. “Simple and Explicit formulas for friction factor in turbulent pipe flow. 124(9).F. C.” Ver. 10.”. Chem. 657-664. Zagarola. Schlichting. “Explicit equation for pipe flow problems. Manadilli. “Friction factors for pipe flows. 2002. 13..C. 12.”. 58. Trans... “Boundary-Layer Theory” . Liou. Eng.”.. ..J. Hydr. Haaland. No. R. Vol.S. Journal.541. Swanson.’’ Chem... A. ASME. JFE. 105. 951-954. 1933. 8. 7. 104(8).E.. Nikuradse. “Stroemungsgesetze in rauhen Rohren. G. Trans. “Limiations and proper use of the Hazen-Williams equations..J.641.Eng. 6. U. L.”. ASCE.. J.1980.5..122-123. Dept. J. New York.V. 15. Can. 7. 361. C. and Smits. ‘‘Improved explicit equations for estimation of the friction factor in rough and smooth pipes. S. “Friction factors for large conduit flowing full.J... Eng.”. and Monzon. “Replace implicit equations with sigmoidal functions. 1983. 369–374. Royo. Round. A.. 1965. of Interior. 66.K. Moody. G. 41-44. 1976.K.S.P. Eng. 1997. 86. Donnelly. 102(5). Swamee. M..J. “An explicit approximation for the friction factor-Reynolds number relation for rough and smooth pipes. U. “Friction factors for smooth pipe flow.. J.”. 14. D.

r = Pipe radius. B* = Function of R*. hf = Head loss.. M. k = Roughness height. USA. 28. 1996.” Neth.thesis. 3. J.16.D.. “Hydraulic resistance of drain pipes. g = Acceleration due to gravity.J. 15.. Eng. 1982. L = Characteristics length of the pipe. F. Von Bernuth. and Homma.. “Friction factors for small diameter plastic pipes. J. AICHE J.. u* = Shear velocity.”. τ = Shear stress. . “Explicit approximations to the Colebrook’s friction factor.. Hydraul. Sci. D.’’ Ph. 115(2). R* = Particle Reynolds number. D.”. Wood. D = Pipe diameter.” J.. ū = Mean velocity of the flow. 1989. ν = Kinematic viscosity.. Zagarola. 19. and Sylvester. 514.1966. Wesseling. ‘‘Mean-flow Scaling of Turbulent Pipe Flow. Rh = Hydraulic radius of the pipe.J. R. Princeton University. NOTATION C = Hazen-Williams Constant. “An Explicit friction factor relationship. Agric.D. T. 183–197.. Zigrang. 20.. Civil Eng. 60-61. R = Reynolds number. 183–192. 1967. u = Velocity of the flow. f = Friction factor. 18. D. 17. and Wilson. N. V.