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Fluid Engineering Flow in pipes


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Fluids Index

Fluid Flow in pipes

Pump Notes and Calculations Pumps

Valve Notes Valves
Fluid Power Notes Fluid Power

Introduction..... Symbols..... Fluid Flow..... Modified Bernoulli's Equation..... Pipe Flow Calculations..... Moody chart.....
Pipe roughness values..... L/D values for fittings..... K values for Sudden Expansion -Contraction & Orifice..... Pipe flow velocities.....


The following notes should enable a mechanical engineer to establish basic flow conditions and head losses along pipe routes in
which fluids are flowing. The equations are most relevant to liquids although approximate sizing for gases can be carried out if
appropriate correction factors are used,where necessary, and low gas velocities are considered.


p = Absolute Pressure N / m
2 Pr = Prantl Number =c p. mu / k (Dimensionless)
A = Pipe Cross Section Area (m )
a = Velocity of sound ( m /s) c p = Specific Heat Capacity at 3
Q = Volume flow Rate (m /s )
Constant pressure (kJ/(kg K)) q = Heat Input per unit mass ( kJ /kg )
c v = Specific Heat Capacity at Constant Volume (kJ/(kg K)) R = Gas Constant = R o / M (kJ /(kg.K)
ε = Pipe roughness (m) Re = Reynolds Number = v.ρD/µ
ε mm = Pipe roughness (mm) t = Temperature (C )
D = diameter (m) T = Absolute Temperature (K)
f = friction factor u = Specific Internal Energy (kJ/kg)
fT = friction factor (flow in zone of complete turbulence). v =Fluid Velocity (m/s)
w = Work Output per unit mass (kJ/kg)
h = Specific Enthalpy (kJ/kg )
k = Thermal Conductivity (W/(m K)) ρ = Density ( kg /m3 )
r = radius of pipe bend (m)
K = f (L/D ) µ =Fluid Viscosity = (Ns/m2 = Pa s)
L = Pipe Length (m) z = Elevation (m )
g = gravitational acceleration ( 9.81 m /s )

Fluid Flow

Fluid flowing in pipes has two primary flow patterns. It can be either laminar when all of the fluid particles flow in parallel lines at
even velocities and it can be turbulent when the fluid particles have a random motion interposed on an average flow in the general
direction of flow. There is also a critical zone when the flow can be either laminar or turbulent or a mixture. It has been proved
experimentally by Osborne Reynolds that the nature of flow depends on the mean flow velocity (v), the pipe diameter (D), the
density (ρ) and the fluid viscosity Fluid Viscosity( µ). A dimensionless variable for the called the Reynolds number which is simply a
ratio of the fluid dynamic forces and the fluid viscous forces , is used to determine what flow pattern will occur. The equation for the
Reynold Number is

For normal engineering calculations , the flow in pipes is considered laminar if the relevant Reynolds number is less than 2000, and

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Fluid Engineering Flow in pipes

it is turbulent if the Reynolds number is greater than 4000. Between these two values there is the critical zone in which the flow can
be either laminar or turbulent or the flow can change between the patterns...

It is important to know the type of flow in the pipe when assessing friction losses when determining the relevant friction factors

Steady Flow Equation....


Reference :

The steady flow equation steady flow equation (energy per unit mass ) for a system is identified below...
Reference... Steady Flow

If q = w = 0 and the fluid is incompressible and frictionless and if the variables are converted to measured heads of the fluid , that is
the units are per unit weight (ρg) - then the Bernoulli's equation results ..
Reference .. Bernoulli's Equation ideal fluids

In real flow systems there are losses due to internal and wall friction which result in increase in the internal energy of the fluid.
(q > 0). Reference Bernoulli's Equation real Fluids . The bernoulli equation is modified to reflect these losses by adding a term h f
= Head loss due to friction.= (u2 -u1 - q) The modified bernoullis equation is therefore ..

The object of most pipe flow head loss calculations is to determine the friction head loss and allow estimation of the pump
/compressor power required to pump the fluid along the piping. In most fluid transfer cases the fluid is a incompressible (a liquid)
and the flow rate (Q) is constant along the pipe run and therefore the velocity at any point can easily be calculated. The head (z)
can also be easily obtained from the pipeline geometry. The system pressure and head loss are therefore the variables generally
subject to the detailed pipeline calculations....

Pipe Flow Calculations

In determining the head loss (pressure drop) along a pipe as a result of friction losses it is first necessary to determine the following:
Diameter (m), Length (m), Fluid Viscosity( µ), Fluid density (ρ) and the fluid velocity (v). It is then necessary to obtain the relevant
Reynolds number..

The equation for the Reynold Number

3 2 2
Consistent units to be used i.e Typically ρ = kg/m , v = m/s, D= m, µ = Ns/m ( 1 Ns/m = 10 cP)

The value for the Reynold number is to be used to evaluate if the flow is laminar or turbulent and can be used to obtain the friction
factor " f " from a moody chart. The moody chart plots the friction factor (f) against the Reynold number with a number of different
plotted lines for different values of absolute roughness/Diameter .

The head loss along the pipe can now be calculated using the Darcy-Weisbach equation

The result of the calculation is in units of head of the fluid. . It is based on the pipe being all one dia and the fluid is incompressible

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For a single pipe line with a number of fittings the total head loss is calculated as

K p = f (L/D) for the length of pipe. ( this may be made up of ∑ f(L/D). for a number of different pipe lengths of different diameters )
K 1..n = f T(L/D) equivalent for each fitting

Note: it is suggested that for laminar flow in pipe at Re number approaching 2000 the above K values are used for bends and fitting
with reasonable accuracy

A moody chart and tables for roughness values and (L/D) factors for various fittings are provided below

Moody Chart

Various typical values of hydraulic roughness ( ε )

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In the moody chart above (ε /D ) is identified with both numerator and denominator in metres (for consistency with all other
equations on this page. It is probably more convenient to express both in (mm).i.e a 50mm cast iron pipe (ε mm; /D mm ) would
simply be (0,203 /50 ).

Type of Pipe ε .103..( = εmm )

Cast Iron 0,203
Galvanised Steel 0,152
Steel/Wrought Iron 0,051
Rivetted Steel 0,91 - 9,1
Asphalted Cast Iron 0,12
Wood-Stave 0,18 - 0,91
Concrete 3,0
Spun Concrete 0,203
Drawn Copper, Brass Steel,Glass Smooth

Typical Values of L/D for Fitt ings

The losses through fittings are generally evaluated by obtaining K = f T(L/D)

Table of pipe friction values for clean pipe in region of complete turbulence

15 20 25 32 40 50 65,80 100 125 150 200,250 300,400 450,600
fT 0,027 0,025 0,023 0,022 0,021 0,019 0,018 0,017 0,016 0,015 0,014 0,013 0,012

Fitting L/D
Close Pattern Ret. Bend 50
Fitting L/D
Globe Valve 340 90o Bend r /D=1 20

Gate Valve 8 90o Bend r /D=2 12

Lift Check Valve 600
90 Bend r /D=3 12
Swing Check Valve 50 - 100
Ball Valve 6 o
90 Bend r / D=6 17
Butterfly Valve 35
90 Bend r / D=8 24
Flush Pipe Entrance
K = 0.5
90o Bend r / D=10
Sharp Corner 30
Flush Pipe Entrance
K = 0.04
radius >0,15 90o Bend r / D=12 34
Pipe Exit K=1
90o Bend r / D=14 38
Tee Through 20
Tee- Branch flow 60
90 Bend r / D=16 42

Elbow-90 30 o 46
90 Bend r / D=16
Elbow -45 16
90 Bend r / D=20 50

The K180 value for a 180o bend may be derived from the equivalent K90 which is calculated from the above tables using the

The K180 = 0,25.π.f T . r/D + 1,5.K90

For laminar fluids with low Re numbers ( "<" 500) the K values obtained using the above are probably very innaccurate. The table
below illustrates how this affects the K values

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K values for low Reynolds Number fluids

Re = 1000 500 100 50
90 deg Elbow Short
0,9 1 7,5 16
Gate Valve 1,2 1,7 9,9 24
Globe Valve 11 12 20 30
Plug Valve 12 14 19 27
Angle Valve 8 8.5 11 19
Swing check Valve 4 4,5 17 55

K values for Sudden Expansion-Contraction & Orifice

The losses through these fitting are generally evaluated by first obtaining β = d2 / d1

I mportant Note: the resulting K values as tabled below are based on the flow velocity in the larger pipe if the flow velocity in the
small pipe is used to evaluate the head loss then the K values tabled below should be multiplied by ( β )
4 = (d / d ) 4
2 1

Table of Ke ,Kc & KO against β = d2 / d1

β Ke Kc Ko β Ke Kc Ko

0.15 1887.42 965.43 2852.85 0.6 3.16 2.47 5.63

0.2 576 300 876 0.65 1.87 1.62 3.49

0.25 225 120 345 0.7 1.08 1.06 2.14

0.3 102.23 56.17 158.4 0.75 0.6 0.69 1.29

0.35 51.31 29.24 80.55 0.8 0.32 0.44 0.76

0.4 27.56 16.41 43.97 0.85 0.15 0.27 0.42

0.45 15.51 9.72 25.23 0.9 0.06 0.14 0.2

0.5 9 6 15 0.95 0.01 0.06 0.07

0.55 5.32 3.81 9.13 1 0 0 0

Reasonable Velocit ies of f luid in Pipes

Medium Pressure (bar) Service Velocity (m/s) Notes

Steam (sat) 0 - 1.7 Heating 20 to 30 + 100mm dia
Steam (sat) over 1.7 Process 30 to 50 +150mm dia
Steam (sup) over 14 Process 30 to 100 +150mm dia
Air Forced Air Flow 5 to 8 e.g. AC Reheat
Water - General 1 to 3
Water Concrete Pipe 4,7

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Water Pump Suction 1,2

Water Horizontal Sewer 0,75 Minimum
Water Pump discharge 1,2 to 2,5 Minimum
Water Boiler Feed 2,4 to 4,6 Minimum
Oil Hydraulic Systems 2,1 to 4,6 Minimum
Ammonia Compressor Suction 25 Max. Permissable
Ammonia Compressor Discharge 30 Max. Permissible

Useful Links
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1. Efluids .. Site includes lots of really useful information and calulculators Pipe Fittings
2. Wikipedia Mechanics of Fluids .. Excellent source of information Fluid Flow
3. Efunda Pipe Pressure Loss Calculator .. Authoritative Calculator and notes
Flow Calculation
4. 1MNO eng.. A site containing a large number of Fluid Flow Calculations and Calculators :
Some of the calculators require registration for a fee; Pipe Flow Rate
5. Engineering Page.. A site including various Engineering Calculators - Very good pump calculator Steel Pipe
6. ER_Online.. Useful software downloads - Very good pump calculator
7. Piping Toolbox a wealth of information on piping design
8. Spirax Sarco...Excellent Reference Site . Learning centre includes fluid flow reference information

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Last Updated 05/01/2010

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