# How to calculate pressure drop and friction losses in a pipe

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Technical Articles about Pipe Pressure Drop Calculations
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This knol presents information on calculating friction loss within a pipe. specific topics include Laminar and Turbulent Flow in a pipe, the Darcy-Weisbach formula, the Hazen Williams Formula, Fanning Friction Factors, Non-Circular Pipe Friction, Viscosity and Density Units with Formula .

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When a fluid flows through a pipe the internal roughness (e) of the pipe wall can create local eddy currents within the fluid adding a resistance to... The velocity profile in a pipe will show that the fluid at the centre of the stream will move more quickly than the fluid towards the edge of the... Fluids with a high viscosity will flow more slowly and will generally not support eddy currents and therefore the internal roughness of the pipe will... Darcy-Weisbach Formula Hazen-Williams Formula Fanning Friction Factor Non-Circular Pipe Friction Viscosity and Density (Metric SI Units) Viscosity and Density (Imperial Units)

Pipes with less smooth walls such as concrete. . The velocity profile in a pipe will show that the fluid at the centre of the stream will move more quickly than the fluid towards the edge of the stream. The friction factor for laminar flow can be calculated from 64 / Re. Reynolds Number The Reynolds number (Re) of a flowing fluid is obtained by dividing the kinematic viscosity (viscous force per unit length) into the inertia force of the fluid (velocity x diameter) Kinematic viscosity = dynamic viscosity / fluid density Reynolds number = (Fluid velocity x Internal pipe diameter) / Kinematic viscosity Note: Information on Viscosity and Density Units and formula are included at the end of this article. This condition is known as laminar flow. copper. Pipes with smooth walls such as glass. brass and polyethylene have only a small effect on the frictional resistance. Fluids with a high viscosity will flow more slowly and will generally not support eddy currents and therefore the internal roughness of the pipe will have no effect on the frictional resistance. Laminar Flow Where the Reynolds number is less than 2300 laminar flow will occur and the resistance to flow will be independent of the pipe wall roughness. cast iron and steel will create larger eddy currents which will sometimes have a significant effect on the frictional resistance. Therefore friction will occur between layers within the fluid.Laminar Flow and Turbulent Flow of Fluids Resistance to flow in a pipe When a fluid flows through a pipe the internal roughness (e) of the pipe wall can create local eddy currents within the fluid adding a resistance to flow of the fluid.

Between the Laminar and Turbulent flow conditions (Re 2300 to Re 4000) the flow condition is known as critical. The friction factor can be used with the Darcy-Weisbach formula to calculate the frictional resistance in the pipe. In small diameter pipes the internal roughness can have a major influence on the friction factor. The friction factor for turbulent flow can be calculated from the Colebrook-White equation: . Eddy currents are present within the flow and the ratio of the internal roughness of the pipe to the internal diameter of the pipe needs to be considered to be able to determine the friction factor. The flow is neither wholly laminar nor wholly turbulent. In large diameter pipes the overall effect of the eddy currents is less significant.Turbulent Flow Turbulent flow occurs when the Reynolds number exceeds 4000. It may be considered as a combination of the two flow conditions. The ‘relative roughness’ of the pipe and the Reynolds number can be used to plot the friction factor on a friction factor chart. (See separate article on the Darcy-Weisbach Formula).

Many factors affect the head loss in pipes.Internal roughness (e) of common pipe materials.1220 mm 0. Much research has been carried out over many years and various formulae to calculate head loss have been developed based on experimental data. .001575” 0.3000 mm 0. the roughness of the internal surface of the pipes.0050 mm 0. many designers choose to ignore the head loss for valves and fittings at least in the initial stages of a design. Cast iron (Asphalt dipped) Cast iron Concrete Copper PVC Steel Steel (Galvanised) 0.005906” Darcy-Weisbach Formula Flow of fluid through a pipe The flow of liquid through a pipe is resisted by viscous shear stresses within the liquid and the turbulence that occurs along the internal walls of the pipe.011811” 0.0450 mm 0. This resistance is usually known as pipe friction and is measured is feet or metres head of the fluid. although the constant ‘C’ had to be determined experimentally.4000 mm 0. A method to model the resistances for valves and fittings is described elsewhere. The resistance through various valves and fittings will also contribute to the overall head loss.004800” 0. thus the term head loss is also used to express the resistance to flow.1500 mm 0. In a well designed system the resistance through valves and fittings will be of minor significance to the overall head loss. Using the concept of ‘wetted perimeter’ and the internal diameter of a pipe the Chézy formula could be adapted to estimate the head loss in a pipe.000059” 0. the changes in elevations within the system and the length of travel of the fluid. created by the roughness of the pipe material.001811” 0. Among these is the Chézy formula which dealt with water flow in open channels.000197” 0. the size of the pipes.0015 mm 0. the viscosity of the fluid being handled.

where the ratio of the internal roughness of a pipe to the internal diameter of a pipe. For a round pipe with full flow the hydraulic radius is equal to ¼ of the pipe diameter.The Darcy-Weisbach equation Weisbach first proposed the equation we now know as the Darcy-Weisbach formula or Darcy-Weisbach equation: hf = f (L/D) x (v2/2g) where: h = head loss (m) f = friction factor L = length of pipe work (m) d = inner diameter of pipe work (m) v = velocity of fluid (m/s) g = acceleration due to gravity (m/s²) f or: h = head loss (ft) f = friction factor L = length of pipe work (ft) d = inner diameter of pipe work (ft) v = velocity of fluid (ft/s) g = acceleration due to gravity (ft/s²) f However the establishment of the friction factors was still an unresolved issue which needed further work. f f = Fanning friction factor Darcy introduced the concept of relative roughness. Friction Factors Fanning did much experimentation to provide data for friction factors. will affect the friction factor for . so the head loss equation becomes: hf = f f(L/Rh) x (v2/2g) where Rh = hydraulic radius. The hydraulic radius calculation involves dividing the cross sectional area of flow by the wetted perimeter. however the head loss calculation using the Fanning Friction factors has to be applied using the hydraulic radius equation (not the pipe diameter).

Prandtl. mathematical iteration is normally required to find f).e. Many forms of head loss calculator were developed to assist with the calculations. The Moody Chart encouraged the use of the Darcy-Weisbach friction factor and this quickly became the method of choice for hydraulic engineers. The Moody Chart In 1944 LF Moody plotted the data from the Colebrook equation and this chart which is now known as ‘The Moody Chart’ or sometimes the Friction Factor Chart. where: f = friction factor e = internal roughness of the pipe D = inner diameter of pipe work Due to the difficulty of solving the Colebrook-White equation to find f. The Colebrook-White equation which provides a mathematical method for calculation of the friction factor (for pipes that are neither totally smooth nor wholly rough) has the friction factor term f on both sides of the formula and is difficult to solve without trial and error (i. The Darcy Friction factor (which is 4 times greater than the Fanning Friction factor) used with Weisbach equation has now become the standard head loss equation for calculating head loss in pipes where the flow is turbulent. In a relatively smoother pipe the turbulence along the pipe walls has less overall effect. Initially the Darcy-Weisbach equation was difficult apply.5º C) has persisted for many years. amongst these a round slide . The work of many others including Poiseuille. Unfortunately the value of the head loss coefficient can vary from around 80 up to 130 and beyond and this can make the ‘Hazen-Williams’ formulae unsuitable for accurate prediction of head loss. Reynolds. hence a lower friction factor is applied. since no electronic calculators were available and many calculations had to be carried out by hand. enables a user to plot the Reynolds number and the Relative Roughness of the pipe and to establish a reasonably accurate value of the friction factor for turbulent flow conditions. Colebrook and White have contributed to the development of formulae for calculation of friction factors and head loss due to friction. the use of the empirical ‘Hazen-Williams’ formulae for flow of water at 60º F (15.turbulent flow. Hagen. To use the Hazen-Williams formula a head loss coefficient must be used.

where the fluid velocity is less than 10 feet per sec and the pipe size is greater than 2” diameter. The results are only valid for fluids which have a kinematic viscosity of 1.85/d4.002083 L (100/C)1. Prior to the availability of personal computers the Hazen-Williams formula was very popular with engineers because of the relatively simple calculations required.rule offered calculations for flow in pipes on one side and flow in open channels on the reverse side. The development of the personnel computer from the 1980’s onwards reduced the time needed to perform the friction factor and head loss calculations. pipe size and the water velocity.13 centistokes. which in turn has widened the use of the Darcy-Weisbach formula to the point that all other formula are now largely unused.13 centistokes. The imperial form of the Hazen-Williams formula is: hf = 0. Unfortunately the results depend upon the value of the friction factor C hw which must be used with the formula and this can vary from around 80 up to 130 and higher. depending on the pipe type. Water at 60º F (15.5º C) has a kinematic viscosity of 1.85 x (gpm1. Hazen-Williams Formula Empirical formulae are occasionally still used to calculate the approximate head loss in a pipe when water is flowing and the flow is turbulent.8655) where: hf = head loss in feet of water L = length of pipe in feet C = friction coefficient gpm = gallons per minute (USA gallons not imperial gallons) d = inside diameter of the pipe in inches The empirical nature of the friction factor C hw makes the ‘Hazen-Williams’ formula unsuitable for accurate prediction of head loss. Common Friction Factor Values of C hw used for design purposes are: Asbestos Cement 140 Brass tube 130 Cast-Iron tube 100 Concrete tube110 Copper tube130 Corrugated steel tube 60 Galvanized tubing 120 .

Glass tube130 Lead piping130 Plastic pipe140 PVC pipe 150 General smooth pipes 140 Steel pipe 120 Steel riveted pipes 100 Tar coated cast iron tube 100 Tin tubing130 Wood Stave 110 These factors include some allowance to provide for the effects of changes to the internal pipe surface due to the build up of deposits or pitting of the pipe wall during long periods of use. hf = f f (L/Rh) x (v2/2g) where: h = head loss (m) f = Fanning friction factor L = length of pipe work (m) R = hydraulic radius of pipe work (m) v = velocity of fluid (m/s) g = acceleration due to gravity (m/s²) f f h or: h = head loss (ft) f = Fanning friction factor L = length of pipe work (ft) R = hydraulic radius of pipe work (ft) v = velocity of fluid (ft/s) g = acceleration due to gravity (ft/s²) f f h . Fanning Friction Factor The frictional head loss in pipes with full flow may be calculated by using the following formula and an appropriate Fanning friction factor.

b = minor diameter /2 . For circular pipes the inner pipe diameter is used is used to calculate the Reynolds number and to calculate the relative roughness of the pipe.e. Cross sectional area of flow / Wetted perimeter = (π x d2 / 4) / (π x d) = d/4 Published tables of Fanning friction factors are usually only applicable to the turbulent flow of water at 60º F (15.b)2/2)] where a = major diameter / 2. The development of ‘The Moody Chart’ which enables engineers to plot the Darcy Friction factor and the use of the personnel computer to calculate the Darcy Friction factor has led to a large reduction in the use of Fanning friction factors. For an annulus formed by placing a smaller diameter pipe inside a larger diameter pipe the cross sectional area of flow will be the cross sectional area of the larger pipe calculated using the inner pipe diameter minus the cross sectional area of the smaller pipe calculated using the outer pipe diameter.5º C). . Note: the formula uses an approximation for the circumference of an elliptical duct. not the pipe diameter. Non-Circular Pipe Friction The frictional head loss in circular pipes is usually calculated by using the DarcyWeisbach formula with a Darcy Friction factor. The hydraulic radius calculation involves dividing the cross sectional area of flow by the wetted perimeter. The wetted perimeter will be the inner circumference of the larger pipe plus the outer circumference of the smaller pipe. h = For an elliptical duct the Dh = 4 x (π x a x b) / π x √ [(2 x (a2 + b2)) – ((a . For a round pipe with full flow the hydraulic radius is equal to ¼ of the pipe diameter. which are both used to calculate the Darcy Friction factor.The Fanning friction factor is not the same as the Darcy Friction factor (which is 4 times greater than the Fanning Friction factor) The above formula is very similar to the Darcy-Weisbach formula but the Hydraulic Radius of the pipe work must used. To calculate the frictional head loss non-circular pipes the method must be adapted to use the Hydraulic Diameter instead of the internal dimensions of the pipe. Hydraulic Diameter = 4 x cross sectional area of flow / wetted perimeter For a round pipe the Dh = 4 x (π x d2 / 4) / (π x d) = d For a rectangular duct the Dh = 4 x (w x h) / 2 x (w + h) height where w = width. i.

014 (plotted from Moody chart) hf = f (L / Dh) x (v2 / 2g) = 0. The temperature of the water is 10o C (50o F).81)) = 0.0 m long carries a water flow rate of 349.4 / 0.00/0.4) x (2.3 = 0.4 m internal diameter x 10.3 m high x 10.4) x (2.18 m2 Flow velocity = 30.4 m Pipe cross sectional area = π x 0.6 x 0. d2 = outer diameter of smaller pipe Example calculation of pipe friction factors: 1.94/0.Dh = 4 x (π x (d12 – d22) / 4) / (π x d1 + d2) where d1 = inner diameter of larger pipe.18/60 = 2. Round pipe: A round steel pipe 0.014 x (10 / 0.000046/0.4002/4 = 0.3) / 2 x (0.0 m long carries a water flow rate of 500 litres/sec (30 m3/min).7782 / (2 x 9.1377 m head where: hf = frictional head loss (m) f = friction factor L = length of pipe work (m) Dh = Hydraulic diameter (m) .4 = 0.000001307 = 850191 Friction factor = 0.014 (plotted from Moody chart) hf = f (L / Dh) x (v2 / 2g) = 0.1 litres/sec (20.1256/60 = 2.946 m3/min).4 = 0.81)) = 0.7782 / (2 x 9. The temperature of the water is 10o C (50o F).778 m/s Relative roughness = 0.6 m wide x 0.4 / 0.778 m/s Relative roughness = 0.000115 Re = v x Dh / (kinematic viscosity in m2/s) = 2. Rectangular duct: A rectangular steel duct 0.3) = 0.138 m head where: hf = frictional head loss (m) f = friction factor L = length of pipe work (m) Dh = Hydraulic diameter (m) v = velocity of fluid (m/s) g = acceleration due to gravity (m/s ²) 2.1256 m2 Flow velocity = 20.000001307 = 850191 Friction factor = 0.6 x 0.000046/0.778 x 0.778 x 0.014 x (10 / 0.4 m Duct cross sectional area = 0.6 + 0. Dh = 4 x (0.000115 Re = v x Dh / (kinematic viscosity in m2/s) = 2. Dh = Internal diameter of pipe = 0.

3 m at is highest point.415 m x 10 m long carrying a water flow rate of 287. If the water temperature is 10o C (50o F) the calculated frictional pressure drop through the steel pipe is 0.000003615 Re = v x Dh / (kinematic viscosity in m2/s) = 2.4 – 0.12202 / (2 x 9.400 b = minor diameter / 2 = 0. a = major diameter / 2 = 0.6002 / 4 = 0.152)) – ((0.138 m head.1885 / 60 = 2.81)) = 0.1220 m/s Relative roughness = 0.1 litres/sec (17. If the water temperature is 10o C (50o F) the calculated frictional pressure drop is 0.000001307 = 673780 Friction factor = 0.300 / 2 = 0.8149 m Dh = 4 x 0.00 / 0.1220 x 0.00 m3/min).365 – 0.946 m3/min) will have the same flow velocity as the rectangular duct.0123 x (10 / 0. 4.800 / 2 = 0.415 / 0.03125] = 1. 3. Inner cross sectional area of the larger pipe = π x 0.b)2/2)] = π x √ [(2 x (0. The duct is 10.8149 = 0. The water temperature is 20o C (68o F).2827 m2 .0000015 / 0.400 x 0.068 m head where: hf = frictional head loss (m) f = friction factor L = length of pipe work (m) Dh = Hydraulic diameter (m) v = velocity of fluid (m/s) g = acceleration due to gravity (m/s ²) Pseudo check calculation: An aluminium pipe with an internal diameter of 0.0123 (plotted from Moody chart) hf = f (L / Dh) x (v2 / 2g) = 0.415) x (2.42 + 0.1885 / 1.15)2/2)] = π x √[0.0 m long and carries a water flow rate of 400 litres/sec (24 m3/min). The temperature of the water is 10o C (50o F).150 = 0.v = velocity of fluid (m/s) g = acceleration due to gravity (m/s ²) Pseudo check calculation: A steel pipe with an internal diameter of 0.415 m Flow velocity = 24. Elliptical duct: An elliptical duct made from aluminium has internal dimensions of 0. Annulus: An annulus section is formed by placing a stainless steel pipe with an outer diameter of 350 mm inside a stainless steel pipe with an inner diameter of 600.226 m3/min) will have the same flow velocity as the elliptical duct.400 m x 10 m long carrying a water flow rate of 349. The annulus section is 10 m long and carries a water flow rate of 600 litres/sec (36.1885 m2 Duct circumference = π x √ [(2 x (a2 + b2)) – ((a .1 litres/sec (20.415= 0.069 m head.150 Duct cross sectional area = π x a x b = π x 0.8 m at its widest point and 0.

250 m Flow velocity = 36.217 x 0.0146 x (10 / 0.1865 / 2. Viscosity and Density (Metric SI Units) In the SI system of units the kilogram (kg) is the standard unit of mass.2827 .307 m head where: hf = frictional head loss (m) f = friction factor L = length of pipe work (m) Dh = Hydraulic diameter (m) v = velocity of fluid (m/s) g = acceleration due to gravity (m/s ²) Pseudo check calculation: A stainless steel pipe with an internal diameter of 0.475 m3/min) will have the same flow velocity as the annulus.000001004 = 801045 Friction factor = 0.1865 m2 Inner circumference of the larger pipe = π x 0.250 / 0.9845 = 0.250) x (3.2172 / (2 x 9.0995 m Wetted perimeter = 1.000180 Re = v x Dh / (kinematic viscosity in m2/s) = 3. Density is normally expressed as kg per cubic meter.0995 = 2.3502 / 4 = 0. p = kg/m3 Water at a temperature of 20°C has a density of 998 kg/m3 Sometimes the term ‘Relative Density’ is used to describe the density of a fluid.00 / 0. If the water temperature is 20o C (68o F) the calculated frictional pressure drop through the steel pipe is 0.998 .81)) = 0.600 = 1.350 = 1.1865 / 60 = 3.000045 / 0.250 = 0.9845 m Dh = 4 x 0. a cubic meter is the standard unit of volume and the second is the standard unit of time. Relative density is the fluid density divide by 1000 kg/m3 Water at a temperature of 20°C has a Relative density of 0.0962 m2 Cross sectional area of the annulus = 0.0146 (plotted from Moody chart) hf = f (L / Dh) x (v2 / 2g) = 0.250 m x 10 m long carrying a water flow rate of 157.307 m head.8850 + 1.Outer cross sectional area of the smaller pipe = π x 0.917 litres/sec (9.0. Density p The density of a fluid is obtained by dividing the mass of the fluid by the volume of the fluid.8850 m Outer circumference of the smaller pipe = π x 0.0962 = 0.217 m/s Relative roughness = 0.

004000 Centistokes. Dynamic viscosity (sometimes referred to as Absolute viscosity) is obtained by dividing the Shear stress by the rate of shear strain.004 x 10-6 m2/s for use in calculations.Dynamic Viscosity μ Viscosity describes a fluids resistance to flow.002 x 10-3 Pa•s for use in calculations. The units of dynamic viscosity are: Force / area x time The Pascal unit (Pa) is used to describe pressure or stress = force per area This unit can be combined with time (sec) to define dynamic viscosity.004 x 10-6 m2/s This evaluates to 1. This fluid head is also part of the equation that makes up the volume of the fluid. The motive force driving the fluid out of the cup is the head of fluid. This value must be converted back to 1. μ = Pa•s 1. Kinematic Viscosity v Sometimes viscosity is measured by timing the flow of a known volume of fluid from a viscosity measuring cup.0 m2/s = 10000 Stokes = 1000000 Centistokes Water at a temperature of 20°C has a viscosity of 1. Rationalizing the equations the fluid head term is eliminated leaving the units of Kinematic viscosity as area / time v = m2/s 1.002 Centipoise. The timings can be used along with a formula to estimate the kinematic viscosity value of the fluid in Centistokes (cSt). The kinematic viscosity can also be determined by dividing the dynamic viscosity by the fluid density. This value must be converted back to 1. Kinematic Viscosity and Dynamic Viscosity Relationship Kinematic Viscosity = Dynamic Viscosity / Density v=μ/p Centistokes = Centipoise / Density .00 Pa•s = 10 Poise = 1000 Centipoise Centipoise (cP) is commonly used to describe dynamic viscosity because water at a temperature of 20°C has a viscosity of 1.

To obtain the mass of a fluid the weight (lb) must be divided by 32. a cubic foot is the standard unit of volume and the second is the standard unit of time.174 ft per second per second. This is the mass that will accelerate by 1 ft/s when a force of one pound (lbf) is applied to the mass. The standard unit of mass is the slug.To understand the metric units involved in this relationship it will be necessary to use an example: Dynamic viscosity μ = Pa•s Substitute for Pa = N/m2 and N = kg• m/s2 Therefore μ = Pa•s = kg/(m•s) Density p = kg/m3 Kinematic Viscosity = v = μ/p = (kg/(m•s) x 10-3) / (kg/m3) = m2/s x 10-6 Viscosity and Density (Imperial Units) In the Imperial system of units the pound (lb) is the standard unit of weight.26 Centipoise Kinematic Viscosity v The units of Kinematic viscosity are area / time . Density p Density is normally expressed as mass (slugs) per cubic foot. p = slugs/ft 3 Water at a temperature of 70°F has a density of 1. The acceleration due to gravity (g) is 32.174.04 x 10-5 lb•s/ft2 1. The weight of a fluid can be expressed as pounds per cubic foot.0 lb•s/ft2 = 47880.936 slugs/ft3 (62.286 lbs/ft3) Dynamic Viscosity μ The units of dynamic viscosity are: Force / area x time μ = lb•s/ft2 Water at a temperature of 70°F has a viscosity of 2.

98384713 Centistokes) Kinematic Viscosity and Dynamic Viscosity Relationship Kinematic Viscosity = Dynamic Viscosity / Density v=μ/p The imperial units of kinematic viscosity are ft2/s To understand the imperial units involved in this relationship it will be necessary to use an example: Dynamic viscosity μ = lb•s/ft2 Density p = slugs/ft3 Substitute for slug = lb/32.174 ft•s2 Density p = (lb/32.4116 Centistokes Water at a temperature of 70°F has a viscosity of 10.034116 Stokes = 92903.5900 x 10-6 ft2/s (0.v = ft2/s 1.00 ft 2/s = 929.174•s2)/ft4 Note: slugs/ft3 can be expressed in terms of lb•s2/ft 4 Kinematic Viscosity v = (lb•s/ft2)/(slugs/ft3) Substitute lb•s2/ft 4 for slugs/ft3 Kinematic Viscosity v = (lb•s/ft2 )/(lb•s2/ft4) = ft2/s .174 ft•s2)/ft3= (lb/32.