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liow to simplify fluid

flow calculations
Solving f/uid f/ow problems has a/ways
been done by s/ow, inefficient trial and
error methods. Here is a way to solve
these prob/ems direct/y, in two steps
Paul Page Austin, Arthur
Calif.

G. MeKee & Co., San Mateo,

THE
USUAL METHOD
of solving a fluid flow problem,
using rational formulas, is by the use of a chart showing
the relationship between the Reynolds number R and the
Fanning Coeffieient or frietion eoeffieient f in the well
known Fanning equation:
f v2 L
h=-D2 g
In most fluid flow problems either the Aow rate or the
hydraulie gradient is unknown. If the flow rate is known,
a two-step solution is made by ealeulating the Revnolds
number, determining the frietion faetor from the R vs f
ehart (Fig. 1) and then ealculating the hydraulic gradient
by placing the value of f in the Fanning formula.
If the hydraulie gradient is fixed by physical eonditions,
and the flow rate is unknown, a trial and errar solution is
usually made by assuming a flow rate, ealculating the

TABLE l-Dimensionless

parameters

System of units used


Name
of
Symbols used
formula
Darey number
Fanning
III
j
Coeffieient
II2

II3
II4

(Q)

Il

Reynolds
number

Reynolds number, determining the friction


faetor and
ealculating the hydraulic gradient, whieh must then be
compared with the required gradient.
Realizing that both the Reynolds
Number R and
Fanning friction faetor f are really dimensionless parameters, the late Sidney P. Johnson1 reasoned that there must
be three other dimensionless pararneters, eaeh with one or
two variables missing from its equation, the same as in the
R and I e q u a t i o n s. By the applieation of dimensional
to the problem

of resistance

MD
f!. PIl

QD
(hg)

(I)

(2)

(3)

( 7r2)~
8

pQ2

(t28)7r
()7r

!Q:.
D4f!.
Qp
J.l.D

Q3p p4

factor vs. Reynolds number

QD
f!. PIl
Variable
not
present

Poiseuille
number

1'5

pertinent

Flg. 1-Friction

IJ.

2
(7r )~

M2P

')

I
Il

D'h

to fluid flow in pipes

g Q2

u,D
(hg)

Il

(4)

I;

(2) g~h

(5)

See II3

See III

See III

(~)~

() J.l.D
Qp

Dup
J.I.

M3pp
s

Il

11"

II

(V)

S2

Q
M

hg
3

3
pD P
J.I.2

(32)~
D2f!.
Dup
J.I.

Q3h/

~
pD P
J.I.2

(2)~
pu

s=:r:
J.I.
3

II4

uD
f!. PIl

Il

ghD3 p2

ghD3 p2

IJ.

IJ.

~
I!.IJ.
3

pD

IJ.

P
2

Ali numbers in any horizontal row are the sarne. irrespective 01 the svstern 01 units used. The numerical coefficients in parenthesis are those required to give the pararneters the numerical values most frequentlv used in practice. All quarrrit ies are consistently from lhe same evstem. either English or rnetric, in which the force unit
gives acceleration to a unit of mass.

HYDROCARBONPROCESSING

September

1975

197

HOW TO SIMPLIFY FLUID FLOW CALCULATIONS


analysisv" he derived the formulas for the three other
dirnensionless parameters.
Two of these parameters plotted versus
numbers, together with the Reynolds number vs. f chart, makes it
possible to solve any flow problem directly, without trial
and error.
ln 1883, Osborn Reynolds' published his paper in which
he showed the difference between viscous or nonturbulent
fiow and turbulent flow and gave his formula which determined which of the two conditions existed in a pipe, for
any set of given fow conditions. Since then many papers
have been published giving curves showing the relationship between the Reynolds number (R) and the friction
factor f. These curves, alI obtained by experiment, were
for various sizes of pipe and were often difficult to correlate over the entire range of pipe sizes. Some of them also
had the fault that the lines continued to droop as the
Reynolds numbers became larger, whereas modern curves
of this kind flatten out to constant values of f
high
Reynolds numbers. ln 1944, Lewis Moody' published his
paper in which he introduced a new variable, inside pipe
walI roughness. This was done by plotting a series of
curves showing the R vs. f relationship, each line for a
fixed ratio of roughness (expressed in thousands of an
inch) divided by inside pipe radius in inches. These curves
flatten out to constant
values of f at high Reynolds
numbers.
Final1y in 1943, Hunter Rouse" published his paper in
which he had derived an empirical formula containing
the four variables, R, f, r (pipe radius) and k (roughness).

=.

TABLE2-Rational
Reynolds

F1uld

This formula gives relationships between f and R which


reflect correct values from the lowest values of R in the
beginning of the turbulent region, out to the higher values,
where f becomes constant. This is the set of curves in
Fig. 1. The roughness is that of new clean steel pipe,
k = 0.0018 incho
The advantage of using the Hunter Rouse formula to
produce a set of R vs. f curves (with an assumed fixed
value for k) is that the curves will always be practically
identical, irrespective of who ca1culates and plots them.
Using Buckingham's I1 designation, Table 1 shows the
five dimensionless parametric equations written in various
forms and the variable missing from each.
The first (I1l) and third (I1a) are the f and R parameters, respectively, and the other three are those derived
by Johnson.
Thus, it becomes evident that any two parameters can
be plotted against each other, but it is also clear that most
of the 10 charts that could thus be obtainable would be of
little value.
In any chart of two parameters
plotted against each
other, one must be an independent variable, and the other
thereby automatically
becomes the dependent
variable.
For example, in the R vs. f chart, the Reynolds number
is the one that is always calculated and is thus the independent variable and f becomes the dependent variable,
the value of which is required.
The parameter I1~ excludes density. As density does not
influence the head loss in either turbulent or nonturbulent
flow, and since density is never an unknown variable in a
fluid flow problem, no further consideration will be given
to I12
flow formulas

number

Head or preseure

lose

Liquide

7742 Dv

R=

h = Aj~f

11

C-DI'

QS
= CDIJ.

BjQ2sL
D6

P=

Values of B

Values of A
Q -

Values

Rate 01
flow in

I
I

gpm

bph
bpd

GaeeaVolume
Baele

Q ~ Rate of
flow in

01 C

gpm

164.3

31.1

71.1

13.47

2213

bph

80.5

15.25

34.8

6.60

92.2

bpd

0.0265

0.0605

0.0115

0.1398

QG
C
IJ.D

L in M feet

3162

p/ _
R

L in miles

L in M leet

L in miles

P22

BjZT~~2L*

Bj TGQ2L**
2P1D5
Values of B

Q = Rate of fow
expressed in ***

Values of C

scfm

29.0

Mscfh

483.6

MMscf per 24 hrs.


Wel~h
Rate
Any
Fluld

Q == Volume flow rate at standard


scfm
Mscfh

20,150

See note I, Table 4

198

L in M leet

0.2767

0.0524

14.5

133.580

Pt

M
6.32 IJ.D

L in miles

76.56

MMscf per 24 hrs,

25,300

M2
0.00336 j pD6
2

P =

Valid for ali fluids


For nomenclature-See

conditions***

1.294 j

V ~L

****

Table 4
.See note 2. Table 4

See note 3. Table 4

**See note 4. TabIe 4

tPressure

September

drop per 1.000 ft.

1975

HYDROCARBON

PROCESSING

With the above facts in mind, it now becomes apparent


"that the only two additional charts really necessary to
make a direct solution of a fiow problem are the independent parameters Il, (with diameters unknown) and
Il (with flow rate unknown) each plotted versus Il1 (I)
as the dependent parameter.
Only occasionally is the unknown variable the pipe
diameter. In the smaller sizes, only commercial sizes are
available so a very rough estimate will give the range of
size within one, or at the most, two commercial sizes. This
parameter will perhaps be most usefui for determining
larger sizes of pipe, where commercial
sizes above 42
inches are not available.
Throughout the entire range of turbulent flow, Il1 (I)
varies only from 0.04 down to 0.006 in numerical value.
Its use as the dependent parameter in ali problems of
turbulent How, therefore, besides being consistent with
current engineering practice, permits an accurate graphical presentation readable to three significant places if ali
data to be displayed are less than two cycles of logrithmetic
paper. Therefore the use of III (I) as the dependent
parameter in turbulent flow problems is the most convenient, and it has been so plotted in Figs. 1, 2 and 3.
These are necessary to maintain
equality. Also g, the
acceleration of gravity appears in some equations. Here it
is a dimensionless constant, having the property of force
per unit of mass, which is necessary if h is regarded as a
slope. If h is considered in the nature of energy loss per
unit mass of fluid and length of pipe, which is equally
permissible, g becomes merely a c o n s t a n t of proportionality.

Fig. 2-Friction

S number.

VS.

(R) can be expressed in terms of mass rate offiow, diameter and viscosity, without p.
This permits the general method of fiow calculation to
be applied to almost any case of gas flow, irrespective of
the pressure drop. When any one value of Il is determined
on a curve, all the others become fixed. In the case of
gases f.J. is a function of temperature but substantially independent of pressure or density, and therefore IlJ is constant from one end of a line of uniform diameter to the
other so long as the temperature in the line is fairly constant. All the Ils are constant if the expansion of gas as it
fiows through a line is isothermal.
The scale of f has been made rather large so it can be
easily read to three significant figures. The horizontal
length of 4 cycles has been compressed into about 1.5
times the one cycle vertical
scale. This makes for the
smooth line slope downward roughly 30 degrees and gives
the greatest accuracy of representation possible in a given
amount of chart space.
Figs. 2 and 3 do not show TI" and TI., respectively, directly
in the form given in Table 1, but instead show the square

There are several interesting singularities in Table 1


where some of the Ils contain only three variables. For
example III can be expressed in three variables, D, Q and
h. but this is no particular advantage, as III is never calculated as an independent parameter. The parameter Ila
TABLE3-Dimensionless

facto r

parameter formulas with coefficients for use with commercial (engineering)

units

Parameter

Fluld

T = (Ilj/5

T number
Liquida

T = F

(Q3p 4) 1/5
IJ.

(Q3 hs5) 1/5

= N--

(pD3)1/2

S= X

IJ.

Values of F

Q - Rate of
flow expressed in

L in miles

L in M feet

L in H rniles

L in M feet

gprn

10.1

14.1

8.58

12.0

bph

8.19

11.4

6.93

9.66

bpd

1.22

1.70

1.03

1.44

T=

[ ( P/ -:
T

:22) Q3G4J 1/5

L in rniles

L in rniles

scfrn

Va!ues of Y
L in rniles

L in M feet

1.74

6.09

2.65

S= X

( p/ _ p/

4.01

yl2 D3/2Gl/2

TOL

IJ.

per 24 hours

T = 0.149

Va!ues of X
L in M feet

0.282

0.394

14.3

20.0

( 3 ) 1/5
0!J!pJ...
IJ.

For nornenclature-See

11

L in M feet

Values or F

Vapors
Steam

(hD3)1/2

= y--

IJ.

Q = Ra te of flow expressed in

MMscf

IIS1/2

Values of X

Va!ues of M

Gases

S= (Il,/12

S number

L in M feet

L in miles

0.895

0.390

S = 0.771 P pD

3) 1/2

IJ.

Tab!e 4

HYDROCARBON PROCESSING

September

1975

199

OW TO SIMPLlFY FLUID FLOW CALCULATIONS

pipe either rougher or smoother, a simple ca!culation can


be made to obtain proper value of f
Table 5 gives the range of pipe roughness for the various types of pipe in commercial use.
Riveted pipe has of course not been used for many
years, but is shown here as ao example of high roughness
pIpe.
Suppose the pipe to be used is 12-inch galvanized. The
roughness of galvanized pipe k
0.006 inches. Then the
relative roughness diameter of 12-inch galvanized pipe is

12 X 0.0018
3.6 inches. Calculate the Reynolds num0.0060
ber for the fiow conditions on the 12-inch pipe, but read
off the friction factor for a pipe diameter of just under
4 inches.
Fig. + is a chart on which the relative roughness diameter can be graphically obtained for any size pipe.
Fig. 3-Friction

factor

VS. T

number.

root of lI, designated S and the fifth root of TI. designated


T. The reason for this alternation in the first place is to
give S and T ab o u t the same magnitude
as R, the
Reynolds number. The S number has roughly one-seventh
the value of R, while the T number has roughly two-fifths
the value of R. In the second place, the numerical values
of both values TI,. and IT. are uncomfortably
large to
handle even with the notation of powers of 10. In particular, the maximum value of IT I looks like a figure of astronomical magnitude.
Fractional exponents introduced by
using S instead of TI" are no great objection, as thev can be
read easily from a slide rule. Use of the fifth root of TI. is
not quite so easy to calculate on a slide rule, but actually
T will not be used as often as S,
The Hunter Rouse formula contains the variable k
that takes care of and varies the value of f, according to
the pipe wall roughness. But since nearly ali fluid flow
ca!culations are made for new steel pipe, having a K value
of 0.0018 inches, Fig. 1 was calculated and plotted for this
value of k, When calculations
of fiuid flow are made for
TABLE 4-Nomenclature,

APPLlCATIONS TO WATER HAMMER CALCULATIONS


Howard Moere" has found a uniqueapplication
for the
S number in connection with pipe line water harnmer
calculations,
When a centrifugal pump is discharging uphill through a pipe line and the pump stops, reversal of
flow and the sudden closing of the check valve at the
pump may cause severe water hammer in the line. Severity
of the stress set up by the water hammer is a function
primarily of water velocity, time the check valve takes to
elose. length of line and severa I other factors. When the
pllmp stops the velocity in the line quickly drops to zero,
and then reverses, increasing until the line friction or head
loss is equal to the hydraulic gradient. At this point equilibrium is established, and the velocitv can go no higher.
The check valve can, of course, elose and probably will,
before maximum velocity is attained. but there is no way
of determining the velocitv at the time of closure except
by experiment on the completed line. However, maximum
severity of water hammer can be ca!Culated by assuming
that valve elosing takes place when the back flow velocity
reaches its maximurn possible magnitude.

abbreviations

and notes for Tables 2 and 3


Abbrevations.

Nomenclature
D = Internal

pipe dia meter.

Q = Volume

rate of fiow. See Tables

2 anel 3 for units

.\1

=-

Mass rale of fow, lbs. per hour

-=

Total

pressure

=
=

Total

head loss in it. of liquid in length

10505

in psi in lerigt h of Line L

Total loss of pressure


(For gas flow only)

L = Length

CONST.-\:-.ITS USED
G is taken as 62.32 ft./sec.2
Densit y of water = 62.37 lb./cu. ft. @ 60 F

of Line L

in psi in length of Line L

of pipe in thousands

O)

of it. or miles
g pm

11

= Velocity

NOTES: See Table 2


Compressibility
facto r Z wi ll normally be uni t y for normal
pressures, If pressure is hig h, select value of Z from cornpressibilit
curves for zas bei ng pi ped ,

of fiow in fps = 0.408-

D2

= Absolute

TO

etc.

gprn =- Gallons per minute


bph = Barrels 142 ~al.) per hour
bpd = Barrels (42 gal.) per 24 hours
M
= 1.000
scirn = Standard cubic feet per minute
Mscf h = Thousands
ai standard
cubic feet per hour
r...1~lsi per 24 hrs. = Millions or standard cubic ieet in 24 hours

in.

temperature

of flowing gas. F

Specific gravity of gas referred to air as unity

P, & P2 = Initial and final pressure psi absolute of gas fiow in line of
of Length L
s = Specific gravitv

Z = Compressibilitv

of liqud referred

(2)

This formula valid for short tine lengths


not exceed 0.10 of final pressure.

where pressure

drops do

(3)

Standard

(4)

Valid for incompressible


fuids.
For steam or other vapor. accu ra te only if PI - P2 is less than 0.1
of P2. For other conditions use formula for gases. volume basis.

460 = T
conditions

for fiowing gas are 14.72 psi absolute

and 60 F.

to water as unit v

PV
factor for gases = at average

fiow conditions

KT
K = Gas constant
". =
\I

(mu)

p = (rho)

200

= Absolute

(nu) = Kinematic
=

viscositv

in centipoises

vscosit y in centistokes

Densit y flowing Iiquid in lbs. per cu. ft.

September

1975

HVDROCARBON

PROCESSING

Absence of flow rate or velocity from the formula for S


makes it possible to calculate the maximum velocity without trial and error calculations.

(hgD3p2)Y,

(hD3)Y,
= 4.01 "'-----'-v

p.

In the above equations, the first having no numerical


coefficient is in consistent units, and the second is in the
usual engineering units defined in Table 4. Here h is the
average rate of head loss over the entire length of the
line. Having calculated the value of S, the friction factor
f can be read off on Fig. 2. Then the Reynolds number
for the same value of f can be read off of Fig. 1 or calculated by the formula:

Fig. 4-Correction

Having the Reynolds number the maximum

:1~;

Q=
where Q is in
gallons per minute and from Q the maximum velocity

be calculated

from the formula

can be calculated.
With the maximum possible velocity in hand, the pressure rise at the instant of closing can be calculated from
any one of six or more empirical Iorrnulas.!" or if it is desired to assume instantaneous closing of the check valve,
the head rise is:
h= av
where:

for pipe roughness other than new steel pipe.

flow rate can


TABLE5-Typical
pipe

interna I roughness of commercial

Internal

Klnd o( ppe
Riveted pipe
Concretc pipe
Wood 8tave .........................

Cast ron
Gal vanized
.
Asphalted cast iron
.
Smooth rubher hose
'
............
New steel pipe (base)
...
.
.
Drawn tubing (copper or steel)
.

.
.

rougbnese

K Ia.

0.36 to 0.036
0.12 to 0.012
0.036 to 0.0072

omo

0.006
0.0049
0.0023
0.0018
0.()()()()8

h
Head rise in feet
a = Surge wave velocity, fps
v
Maximum possible velocity in fps
g = Acceleration of gravity.

From the rise in head, the resultant


be calculated.

rise in pipe stress can

RELATIONSHIPS OF PARAMEnRS
There are three interesting relationships between
parameters which may at times be useful.
(1) S=
(2) T
(3)

the

R~~

= .li. (8
4

7T

f--8

7T3

f)

= - :~

Head

Pressure 1oss rate, or pressure gra diient

(rho)
(mu)
v (nu)

p
p.

About the author


is senior engineer with
Arthur G. McKee & c, Weste'/'n
Knapp Engineering
Division, San
Mateo, Calif. His duties include specification writing, engineering calculations
and evaluation of competitive bids. Mr.
Austin holds an AB deree in mechanical engineering [rom M.I.T. Past projeesional experience includes
over 30
.
yearsin mechanical engineering activities including both domestic and foreign assignments. He is a
member of ASME and is a registered professional engineer
in California.

September

dp
-"'dx'

= Specific

1055

rate or hydraulic gradient

gravity of a liquid referred to water as unity

g = Specific gravity of a gas, referred

(T- )10/3

PAUL P. AUSTIN

PROCESSING

1/5

Formula 1 was used for calculating the S numbers for


Fig. 2 and Formula 2 was used for calculating the T numbers for Fig. 3.

HYDROCARBON

NOMENCLATURE
For Table I, units must be consistent,
i.e., metric or all
English. For engineering units nonnally used, see Nomenclature
for Table .J..
D = Inside diameter of pipe
Q = Flow rate. volume per unit of time
M = Mass rate of flow, per unit of time
P = Pressure. absolute (for gases)
p = Pressure, gage
v Mean velocity of fluid over cross-section of pipe
L = Length of pipe line
x = Variable length along line

1975

to air as unity

= Density of fluid
= Absolute viscosity of fluid
= Kinernatic viscosity of fluid
=s
g = Force of gravity per unit of mass, 32.2 for English

p.

p:

n, rr, rr, rr, rr, I, R, S, T, = Dimensionless


Table
LlTERATURE

parameters

units.

defined in

1.
ClTED

'S. P, Johnson,
A Survey of Flow Calculation
Methods,
ASME .Summer
Meeting of Aeronautic and Hvdraulic
Divisions, Stanford University, June
_ 19, 20, 21, 1934.

Hunter Rouse, Evaluaton of Boundary Roughness,


Proceedings of the Second
Hydraulic Conference, University of Iowa BulIetin No. 27, Published by the
urnversrtv, 1943.
I
3 Buckingham , "The
TI Theorem."
The Ptvysicai Review (London), Vol. IV,

page 345, October 1914.

Osborn Reynolds, Philosophicol


Transaetions
of lhe Royol Socie/y of London,
Vol. CLXXIV,
1883, page 975.
'Howard
Moore. Analvsis and Control of Hvdraulic Surge (page 32), published by Magnilastic Division o Cook Electric Co., Chicago, lIlinoi s,
Stanton and Pannell, "Similarity
of Motion in Relation to Surface Friction
of Fluids," Phllosophical Transactions of Royal Soeiety, A214. 199-191'l.
1 Lewis
F. Moody, "Friction
Factors for Pipe Flow," ASME Transaetlons,
November 1944.
'William
H. McAdams,
Heat Transfer,
3rd Edition, Chapter V-Dimen
sional Analysis, McGrawHilI
Book Co.
Piggott, R.V.S . ASME Transactions, Vol. 55, l!ln.
'o AWWA Steel Pipe Manual MIl, Chapter 7, Water Hammer and Surge.

201