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# ORIFICE CALIBRATION AND

## FRICTION LOSSES IN PIPES AND

FITTINGS

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ORIFICE CALIBRATION AND
FRICTION LOSSES IN PIPES AND FITTINGS

Objectives

## 1. To measure the pressure drop across an orifice.

2. To measure pressure drop across pipes and also across common pipe fittings.

## 3. To prepare an orifice calibration curve, showing flow rate as a function of differential

pressure cell reading.

4. To determine and plot the orifice coefficient as a function of the Reynolds number and to
compare this plot to theory.

5. To compare the calculated friction losses in pipe fittings to those predicted in standard
chemical engineering references.

6. To utilize this data to estimate the energy loss for a proposed pipe system.

Theory
A flow meter is a device that produces a signal of some kind, the signal being a function of the
flow rate. Our understanding of the functional relationship is usually at least amenable to experimental
observation, so that a table or graph can be prepared from experimental observations of signal and flow
rate. From such information, we can presumably estimate flow rates from observations of the signal
produced by the meter.

If a calibration curve of the flow rate vs. signal (float height or differential pressure in this lab) is
determined, interpolation of this curve can be performed to determine a flow rate at a new signal level.
Errors associated with this approach can occur based on the interpolation technique incorporated or to the
data accuracy used to develop the calibration curve. These errors can be eliminated if an engineering
analysis of the system allows the functional relationship to be expressed as a mathematical relationship.
Furthermore, the precision can be estimated through the use of regression analysis.

For many types of flow meters, analysis can be conducted in terms of the mechanical energy

P  g  2

∆ E + ∆   + ∆z + ∆ v  + ∑ F = Qh - W s

ρ  gc  2 α gc 

## balance. For an incompressible fluid,

For an orifice, the mechanical energy equation can be reduced through mathematical manipulation
to

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-∆ P 
2 g c  
 ρ 
v1 = C o 2
A1 - 1
2
Ao

where, point 0 is at the orifice face and point 1 is taken in the bulk stream upstream of the orifice.

Experimental values for the friction losses (head loss) associated with pipes can be derived from
the mechanical energy equation. The head loss across the pipe length

∆P
hL =
ρ

(h L)is calculated using a reduced form of the mechanical energy balance equation.

The experimental Moody (or Darcy) and Fanning friction factors are calculated in the following
manner.

## Darcy friction factor (f D):

 - ∆P   d 
   
 ρ   L 
f D=
 v2 
 
2g 
 c 

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Fanning friction factor (f f ):

(- ∆P) g c d
f f=
2v2 L ρ

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The predicted friction factors can be estimated by the equations below, once the flow regime and

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Laminar Flow (Re < 2100) : f f=
Re

 d/ε 
+ 2.28 - 4.0 log  4.67 +1
1 d
Transition Flow : = 4.0 log
f ε  Re f 
f  f 

 ε 
= - 4.0 log  
1 1.256
Turbulent Flow (Re > 3000) : +
f  3.7 d Re f 
f  f 

## The term ε/d is the relative roughness.

fD = 4 f f

Then,

- ∆P g c L v2 L v2
hL = = fD =2 f
ρ g d 2g f
d g

The head loss (h L) can then be written in terms of the friction factor.

The length L may be a set length of straight pipe or may be an equivalent length of pipe that accounts for
valves, tees, elbows, etc.

Pipe fittings disturb the normal flow in a pipe and cause additional energy losses. In a short pipe
with many fittings, the friction loss from fittings could be greater than in the straight pipe. There are two
methods for estimating these losses.
The first is the equivalent length method. This technique uses data that gives the energy losses in
terms of a pipe length with an equivalent frictional loss. This data is usually presented in terms of Le/d.
Where d is the pipe diameter and Le is the equivalent length of pipe. This can be introduced into the above
equation by summing the equivalent length and the straight length of pipe.
The friction loss for fittings and valves is also sometimes expressed in terms of a “K factor”. The
K factor is defined as the additional number of velocity heads (v2/2gc) lost at a given Reynolds number due
to inclusion of the fitting. In this way, it is analogous to the Le/d method as seen in the above equation.

EQUIPMENT DIAGRAM

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All pipe dimensions listed above are nominal values.

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Moody (Darcy) Plot

Nomenclature

Co = Orifice coefficient
d = Diameter (ft)
E = Internal energy (lb f -ft/lb m)
ΣF = Sum of all frictional forces (lb f -ft/lb m)
fD = Darcy (or Moody) friction factor
ff = Fanning friction factor
g = Gravitational force constant (32.2 ft/s 2)
gc = Gravitational conversion factor (32.2 lb m-ft/lb f -s 2)
hL = Head loss (ft)
L = Length (ft)
m = Mass flow rate (lb m /s)
N = Pump speed (rpm)
P = Pressure from DP cell (inches of Hg)
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Q = Volumetric flow rate or capacity (gal/min or gal/s)
Qh = Heat generated (lb f -ft/lb m)
Re = Reynolds number
v = Fluid velocity (ft/s)
W = Wattage (Watts)
Ws = Shaft work (ft-lb f /lb m)
z = Height (ft)

## α = Kinetic energy correction factor

ε = Roughness coefficient (ft)
γ = Specific gravity
ρ = Density (lb m /gal)

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EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE

Notes:
At present, the system is not attached to a water main, but to a pump and tank.
This means that valve V-1 does not exist but has been replaced by a valve V-A
which supplies another experiment. DO NOT OPEN V-A UNLESS
INSTRUCTED.
-Thanks, The Staff

Part I. Calibrate the primary flow meter (float rotameter) for water pumped to the pipe network
using the “bucket and stopwatch” method.

1. Close valves V-4, V-5, V-6, V-7, and V-8. Open valves V-3, V-9, and V-10.

2. Use V-2 to control the flow through the pipe system. Take at least three measurements to
obtain a calibration plot for the rotameter. DP cell DP-1 should be connected to an off
line (such as the ½ inch steel pipe.)

Part II Orifice

3. Make sure the differential pressure cell DP-1 is zeroed. If not, note the discrepancy and
continue. (Note, you must read it upside down.)

4. When measuring pressure drop, connect cell DP-1 tubing to the desired taps on each side
of the segment.

## 5. Valves V-9, and V-10 should be open at all times.

6. Connect the DP cell (DP-1) to the fittings on both sides of the orifice and open valve V-3.

7. Determine the differential pressure across the orifice at 7 flow rates (minimum) by
adjusting the water flow, using valve V-2.

8. If the pressure difference is to be observed for a straight pipe, (see below) open the
appropriate valve. All other valves should be closed except for those indicted in step 5,
and V-2 (your control valve)

9. When measuring the pressure drop across the fittings close off all of the pipes and have
only V-3 open.

10. Increase the water flow rate to the maximum level attainable on the pipe/fitting using
valve V-2 to adjust the flow rate and record the reading from DP-1.

11. After the maximum flow rate percentage is obtained, take at least 5 more readings from
the DP cell at different flow rate percentages.

## This Quarter you will look at the following pipes/fittings:

-3/4 copper pipe
-1/2 Steel pipe
-1/2 Plastic pipe
-90 degree smooth bend
-90 degree fitted bend
-Gate valve
-180 degree bend
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MINIMUM REPORT REQUIREMENTS
1. A calibration plot (flow rate vs. DP cell reading) should be generated for the orifice. Use
the regression analysis tool in Excel to estimate precision (95 % confidence level)

2. A plot of orifice coefficient (C o) vs. Reynolds number (Re) should be generated for the
orifice. On the same plot, graph a curve from the literature using the same diameter ratio.
The orifice diameter is 0.3125 inches, and the pipe ID is 0.5 inches.

3. A plot of log Q (volumetric flow rate) vs. log ∆P should be generated. Then discuss the
Re and Q ranges over which the orifice coefficient is useable for the laboratory orifice.
Also compare the estimated orifice coefficients with literature values.

4. A plot of Re vs. both the predicted and experimental f f (Fanning friction factor) for each
pipe/fitting.

5. A comparison of the above values obtained above (4) to literature values. Also discuss
effects of pipe/tube roughness and diameters on the Fanning friction factors.

6. Discuss whether the actual flow rate vs. rotameter reading is linear (an assumption made
in this lab).

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SAMPLE DATA TABLES

ORIFICE ORIFICE
∆P % ∆P %
(inches Hg) Flow (inches Hg) Flow

## ½" STEEL PIPE ½" PLASTIC PIPE

∆P % ∆P %
(inches Hg) Flow (inches Hg) Flow

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1/4" COPPER PIPE 3/8" COPPER PIPE
∆P % ∆P %
(inches Hg) Flow (inches Hg) Flow

## ½" COPPER PIPE 3/4" COPPER PIPE

∆P % ∆P %
(inches Hg) Flow (inches Hg) Flow

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