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Pipe Loss Experimental Apparatus

Kathleen Lifer, Ryan Oberst, Benjamin Wibberley


Ohio Northern University
Ada, OH 45810
Email: b-wibberley@onu.edu

Abstract

The objective of this project was to develop an educational tool for use in an undergraduate
thermal sciences laboratory. The apparatus was designed such that major and minor losses
through a piping system could be determined for turbulent flow.

The device cycles water through a closed-circuit, pressurized network. Water is drawn out of a
reservoir and pumped through a filter. It then enters the experimental section and passes through
a flow meter. Finally, the water flows through a pressure-control valve and then returns to the
reservoir.

In the experimental section, valves direct the flow of water through one of three equal length,
equal diameter pipes. The control section, a segment made from smooth copper piping, is used to
calculate the friction factor. The segment made from roughened copper piping is used to
experimentally determine the pipe-wall roughness. The segment constructed of smooth copper
piping and a gate valve is used to demonstrate minor losses in a pipe network.

The pipe loss experimental apparatus provides undergraduate students with practical fluid-
mechanics experience to supplement lecture material.

Introduction

Fluid mechanics is a commonly studied subject by undergraduate students in a mechanical


engineering curriculum. One area of fluid mechanics is the study of internal flow, which
incorporates the concepts of major and minor losses. To help students at Ohio Northern
University develop a fundamental understanding of these ideas, a laboratory experimental
apparatus was commissioned as a senior design project. The apparatus was to be designed in
such a way that major and minor losses through a piping system could be determined for
turbulent flow. Specifically, the objectives of the experiment would have students calculate the
friction factor, pipe wall roughness, and minor loss coefficients.

For practical purposes, the apparatus was to be designed such that it is convenient to transport,
easy to set up and safe to use. Also, budget restrictions limited the cost of the apparatus to $1000.

System Analysis

Major losses result from the dissipation of energy due to friction as fluid flows through a pipe. A
minor loss, also the result of energy dissipation due to friction, occurs when fluid flows through
or encounters a fitting in the pipeline (e.g. expansions, contractions, bends, or valves).
Proceedings of the 2011 ASEE NC & IL/IN Section Conference
Copyright 2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 1
Major and minor losses are commonly quantified as head loss, and have dimensions of length.
Head loss is represented by the equation1 below

 


     ,
 2 2
(1)
 

where f is the dimensionless friction factor, KL is the minor loss coefficient, V is the flow
velocity, L is the pipe length and D is the pipe diameter.

The friction factor for turbulent flow can be calculated using the Haaland equation.1 Turbulent
flow is characterized by highly disordered motion and is expected when Reynolds numbers (Re)
are greater than 4000. The Haaland equation takes the form of

1 6.9 !.!!
 1.8   "  $ 4000

  3.7
(2)

where is the measure of pipe-wall roughness and has the same units as the diameter.

The head loss equation, seen below, relates multiple parameters at two points of flow, including:
pressure (P), velocity (V), head loss (hL), elevation (z), and pump and turbine losses (hpump,
hturbine). The equation also includes the constants: density () and gravity (g).

'! !
'

)! *+,*  )
-+./01 
(! 2 (
2 (3)

If the fluid does not undergo an elevation change or pass through a pump and/or turbine and
flows at a constant velocity, then the head loss equation can be modified to solve for the head
loss as seen in equation 4.
'
 
( (4)

The friction factor for major losses can be calculated with a known pressure drop and volumetric
flowrate as seen in equation 5.
2'3


(45

(5)

The minor loss coefficient can then be calculated given a known friction factor and head loss.

2 
   


(6)

The Colebrook equation1 can be used iteratively to solve for pipe roughness given a known
friction factor, Reynolds number, and diameter.
Proceedings of the 2011 ASEE NC & IL/IN Section Conference
Copyright 2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 2
1 2.51
 2.0 6 :
/D
  3.7
(7)

Flow Generation System Options

The flow generation system is the portion of the apparatus which will provide the means for
water to circulate through an experimental section. Three alternatives corresponding to the
design of this system were developed for this project.

The first design alternative connected the experimental section directly to a building water
supply. This would have provided a simple, low-cost solution for providing flow. However, this
option was not favorable because building water supplies do not always produce consistent flow,
thus jeopardizing the credibility of the experiment. Furthermore, the design would have limited
the mobility of the apparatus in regards to where it could be used.

The second design alternative utilized a gravity-feed tank and a return pump. Water stored in an
elevated tank would drain down through the experimental section and then return to the tank, at
the same rate, by way of a pump. This option would have produced a steady and predictable flow
through the pipe network. However, a model of the system, developed using Engineering
Equation Solver (EES), indicated that reasonable pressure drops along the experimental section
could not be obtained without constructing a system that would have limited the mobility and
ease of set up of the apparatus.

The third design alternative was a pressurized, closed-circuit system. This design included using
a pump, water storage tank, and valve. Water would first be pumped from the tank to the
experimental section, then through a pressure control valve and back to the tank. The valve
would allow the system behind it to be pressurized. Favorable pressure drops were obtained from
system modeling completed with EES. Furthermore, it was determined that this alternative
would be able to meet the constraints and criteria of mobility, ease of use and safety. Thus, this
design was chosen as the flow system for the Pipe Loss Experimental Apparatus.

Design

The Pipe Loss Experimental Apparatus consists of two subsystems: the flow system and the
experimental section.

The flow system- in addition to the tank, pump and pressure valve- consists of a filter and flow
meter. The filter removes excess particles in the water so that they do not pass through the pump,
flow meter, and experimental section. This helps to reduce damage to the components, and
increases the reliability of the apparatus as a whole. The flow meter provides the volumetric flow
rate of water through the apparatus.

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Copyright 2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 3
The experimental section consists of three parallel runs of copper piping. Valves control the flow
of water to the desired pipe. Each pipe is three feet in length and half an inch in diameter. The
first pipe section has a smooth interior. The second pipe section has a roughened interior. The
third pipe section has a smooth interior
interior, but also consists of a gate valve at the middle. Pressure
taps are located at the entrance and exit of each pipe section. The pressure drop across each pipe
is measured by a differential pressure transducer in conjunction with a strain meter. There is only
one pressure transducer to measure the drop across all three pipes, and thus a gang-valve
gang is used
to control which pressure line leads into the pressure transducer, as depicted in Figure 1.1 A
schematic diagram of the apparatus can be seen in the Figure 2.

Figure 1: Gang--Valve with Line 1 Open for Measuring Pressure

Figure 2: Schematic of Proposed Design

The water circulates through the system beginning from the water reservoir. It then continues
through the filter, pump, experimental section, flowmeter and flow control valve. The cycle
concludes by the water returning to the reservoir.

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2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 4
The apparatus includes many features that increase its mobility, versatility, functionality and
safety.
The final design houses the instrumentation, flow system and experimental section on a
cart, thereby improving the mobility of the apparatus. The cart dimensions are such that
it can fit through any standard doorway.
A two shelf design allows the experimental section, contained on the top shelf, to be
removed from the rest of the apparatus thereby permitting use of the apparatus for future
experiments.
Flexible tubing implemented from the flow system to the experimental section reduces
the constraint of attachment point locations on future experimental section designs.
The flow system is designed in such a manner that the pump is primed due to
gravitational effects on the water in the reservoir.
A drain valve located at the lowest point of the system allows easy drainage of all
components.
The filter can be by-passed in order to reduce flow constriction.
A water catch basin beneath the filter prevents water spillage during filter-cartridge
replacement.
A ball valve located after the flow meter allows pressurization of the system.

A computer rendition of the apparatus can be seen in the Figure 3 and a photograph of the
constructed apparatus with labeled components can be seen in Figure 4.

Figure 3: Computer Rendition of Apparatus

Proceedings of the 2011 ASEE NC & IL/IN Section Conference


Copyright 2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 5
Figure 4: Experimental Pipe Loss Apparatus

Figure 5 is a photo of the experimental section that includes the three test runs, pressure taps, and
valves.

Figure 5: Removable Experimental Section

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Copyright 2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 6
The selection of components for the apparatus was based on the results of system modeling. The
specifications of the components can be found in Table 1. The total cost for the construction of
the apparatus was $836.14.

Table 1: Components Specifications

Component Capacity Accuracy


Flowmeter2 0-16 gpm 5%
Pressure Transducer3 0-30 psi 1%
Pump4 12 gpm -
Filter5 7 gpm -
Tank6 26 gal -

Predicted Performance

The software package, EES, was used to calculate the system performance using the fluid
mechanics equations previously mentioned. The system parameters were varied in EES until
optimal parameters and ideal results were obtained. The chosen parameters and corresponding
values are listed in Table 2.
Table 2: System Parameters
Parameter Value
Reynolds Number 37818
Pipe Length 3 feet
Pipe Diameter 0.5 inches
Flow Rate 6 gpm
Friction factor, smooth 0.022

The pressure drops and friction factors from modeling are summarized in Table 3. Modeling
projected a pressure drop (P) of 1.03 psi for the smooth copper pipe. The pressure drop for the
roughened pipe was expected to be greater than 1.03 psi, however no specific value is available
due to an unknown pipe roughness. Pressure drops along the pipe with the gate valve were
projected to be 1.15 psi (fully-open) and 2.38 psi (half-open).

Table 3: Expected Results per System Modeling


Gate Valve
Smooth Roughened
Fully Open Half Open
P, psi 1.03 >1.03 1.15 2.38

f 0.022 >0.022 0.022

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Copyright 2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 7
Validation Plan

Prior to collecting results from the apparatus, the accuracy of the flowmeter and pressure
transducer were validated.

Flow Meter

The accuracy of the flowmeter was validated by the following procedure:

1) Water flowed through the flowmeter and discharged into a 5 gallon tank.
2) Beginning at an indicated flowrate of 1 gpm, the time required to fill the tank was recorded.
3) This procedure was repeated in increments of 1 gpm up to an indicated flowrate of 6 gpm.
4) A total of three trials were performed, and the averaged times were calculated for each
flowrate.
5) The theoretical times required to fill the tank for flowrates ranging from 1-6 gpm were
calculated and compared to the averaged experimental times.

The results of the experiment can be seen in Table 4. The data suggests that the flowmeter should
be used in the 3-6 gpm range in order to minimize error due to flow rate.

Table 4: Flowmeter Validation Data


Indicated Experimental Theoretical Percent
Flowrate Average Time Time Error
(gpm) (s) (s) (%)
1 203 300 32.5
2 134 150 10.9
3 94 100 5.9
4 73 75 2.7
5 58 60 4.2
6 50 50 0.7

Pressure Transducer

The accuracy of the pressure transducer was validated through a hydrostatic experiment:

1) A water column of a known height was attached to the pressure transducer.


2) The water level was varied between and 25 feet.
3) The resulting hydrostatic pressure was displayed by a digital meter attached to the pressure
transducer.
4) The theoretical hydrostatic pressure was compared to the experimental data, and the errors
were calculated.

Proceedings of the 2011 ASEE NC & IL/IN Section Conference


Copyright 2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 8
The results of the experiment can be seen in Table 5.

Table 5: Pressure Transducer Validation Data


Column Experimental Theoretical Percent
Height Pressure Pressure Error
(ft) (psi) (psi) (%)
0.5 0.3 0.2 14.9
1.5 0.7 0.7 3.6
3 1.3 1.3 4.2
5 2.3 2.1 6.6
10 4.4 4.3 2.2
15 6.4 6.4 0.7
20 8.7 8.5 1.6
25 10.9 10.7 1.9

The results of the experiment indicate errors in the accuracy of the pressure transducer up to
15%. Some error can be attributed to the measuring tools used to determine the height of the
water column.

Final Results

The testing of the apparatus yielded the following results, also summarized in Table 6. The
smooth copper pipe was found to produce a pressure drop of 0.49 psi at a Reynolds number of
36952, which resulted in a friction factor of 0.01584. The roughened copper pipe was found to
produce a pressure drop of 0.63 psi which resulted in a friction factor of 0.01904 and thus a pipe
roughness of 0.014 mm. The pipe with a gate valve was found to produce a pressure drop of 0.9
psi (fully open) and a pressure drop of 1.18 psi (half open) and ultimately a minor loss
coefficient of 0.326 (fully open) and 0.782 (half open).

Table 6: Final Results


Gate Valve
Smooth Roughened
Fully Open Half Open
P, psi 0.49 0.63 0.9 1.18

f 0.01584 0.01904 0.01584

The friction factor of the smooth run was compared between the theoretical and the experimental
values. These values and the resulting percent error are listed in Table 7. The theoretical and
experimental minor loss coefficients were also compared and can be seen in Table 8.

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Copyright 2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 9
Table 7: Comparison of Predicted and Actual Results
Theoretical Experimental Percent Error
Friction Factor Friction Factor (%)
Smooth 0.022 0.0158 28

Table 8: Comparison of Minor Loss Coefficients


Theoretical1 Experimental Percent Error
Minor Loss Coefficient 0.2 0.326 63.0
(Fully Open)
Minor Loss Coefficient 2.1 0.782 62.8
(Half Open)

Discussion

The data gathered from testing the apparatus revealed mixed results. The smooth pipe section
yielded an error of 28% for the friction factor. The roughened pipe section resulted in a pressure
drop and friction factor greater than that of the smooth pipe section, as expected. Furthermore,
the roughness of the pipe is 0.014 mm as calculated by using the Colebrook equation (eq. 7).
This roughness is comparable to that of smooth rubber, as indicated in Fluid Mechanics:
Fundamentals and Applications by Yunus engel (2nd edition). The minor loss coefficients
calculated for the gate valve in fully and half open positions resulted in errors of 63%. These
errors are due in part by assuming coefficient values published by engel (coefficient values
were unavailable from the gate valve manufacturer). Provided that this apparatus is intended to
demonstrate major losses as a means of reinforcing concepts learned in lecture, all of the above
errors are acceptable.

There are multiple common sources which can lead to errors in the experiment. Such sources
include inaccuracies in the pressure transducer and flow meter. Furthermore, before the water
reaches the pressure taps in the pipe sections, it incurs a minor loss due to passing through a
fitting. Additionally, manufacturing imperfections, such as the pipe diameter and length between
pressure taps, can further attribute to error.

Conclusion

The purpose of this project was to develop an educational tool for use in the thermal sciences
laboratory at Ohio Northern University. The apparatus was developed so that students can gain
hands on experience with the concepts of major and minor losses, thus extending their education
beyond the classroom. The device is a mobile and pressurized system that has the capability of
measuring flowrate though-, and pressure drop across, a removable experimental section. Testing
of the apparatus produced acceptable results for both major and minor losses. The project was
completed within the constraints and criteria set forth at the beginning including: cost, mobility,
ease of set up, and safety. The apparatus will be a valuable addition to the mechanical
engineering department at Ohio Northern University.

Proceedings of the 2011 ASEE NC & IL/IN Section Conference


Copyright 2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 10
References

1. Cengel, Yunus A., and John M. Cimbala. Fluid Mechanics: Fundamentals and Applications. Boston:
McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2010. Print.
2. Hedland. Installation Instructions For EZ-View Flow Meter and EZ-View Flow-Alert Flow Meter. Hedland,
2010. Print.
3. Omega Engineering Inc. PX26 Series Pressure Transducer. Omega Engineering, 2009. Print.
4. Northern Tool & Equipment Co., Inc. 1" Clear Water Pump Owners Manual. Northern Tool &
Equipment. Print.
5. "Water Filters." McMaster-Carr. Web. 17 Mar. 2011. <http://www.mcmaster.com/#water-
filters/=bh92vz>.
6. "26 Gallon Rectangle Utility Tank, 18" W X 25" L X 19" H - Go-To-Tanks." Water Storage Tanks | Plastic
Water Tanks | - Go-To-Tanks. Web. 17 Mar. 2011. <http://gototanks.com/26-Gallon-Rectangle-Utility-
Tank.aspx>.

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Copyright 2011, American Society for `Engineering Education 11