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Fluid Flow in Piping Systems

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Engineering Bulletin

Issue Date

977

H110

0989

The relationship between the many factors which influence the pressure

and flow rate within a hydronic system can sometimes seem very

confusing. This report provides a simple systematic approach for

analyzing basic hydronic systems. These concepts can later be applied to

more complicated systems like those discussed in Engineering Reports

H111 and H112. For the purpose of this report the fluid discussed will

always be water.

Head

is often used interchangeably with pressure. For example, pump curves

depict the relationship between the head developed by a pump and its flow

rate. Piping friction-factors are also normally expressed in terms of head

loss per unit length of pipe.

Head has the dimension of length, usually expressed in terms of feet. If all

of the system variables are expressed in terms of head, it is possible to

relate the different forms of energy transport with a common dimension.

Therefore, energy transport caused by changes in pressure, elevation,

velocity, pumping and friction losses within a system can simply be added

or subtracted from each other which greatly simplifies calculations. There

are six different types of head which are typically utilized in the analysis

of hydronic systems. These are pressure head, elevation head, velocity

head, pump head, head losses due to piping friction and head losses due to

control valves.

Pressure Head

called pressure head. In other words, it is the static pressure which exerts

itself against the walls of the piping system. Its magnitude can be

measured with a pressure gauge.

Pressure head can be defined by the following equation:

Pressure head (Hp) = p

Where: p = pressure (lb/ft2)

= specific gravity (for water this is 62.4 lb/ft3)

Code No. LIT-351H110

Elevation Head

elevation head. This represents the energy contributed to a

given point in the system due to the height of the water column

above the referenced point.

It is defined by the following equation:

Elevation head (He) = z

Where: z = elevation of unit of fluid above the reference point (feet)

Velocity Head

Velocity head is measured with a pitot tube.

It is defined by the following equation:

Velocity head (Hv) = V2 64.4

Where: V = Average velocity of the fluid (ft/sec)

64.4 = 2 Acceleration of Gravity (32.2 ft/sec2)

pump is graphically represented by a pump curve. A pump curve shows

all of the operating points of a constant speed pump as its discharge is

throttled between zero and full flow. Values of Hpump can be obtained

from the y-axis of a pump curve. Figure 4 shows a pump curve for a

centrifugal pump.

The magnitude of the Hpump, therefore, depends on the flow rate through

the pump and the curvature of the pump curve.

Head Losses Due

To Piping Friction

(HLpf)

When water flows through a section of pipe the friction between the fluid

and the inside surface of the piping creates a pressure drop (head loss).

This head loss is related to:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

The velocity of the fluid.

The inside diameter of the pipe.

The roughness of the inside of the pipe.

The length of the section of piping.

There are two methods which can be utilized to determine the actual head

loss in a section of pipe. The first method involves calculating a

dimensionless number called the Reynolds Number (Nr). This number is

applied to a Moody Chart from which another term called the pipe

friction factor (Ff) is determined. After Ff is determined, the HLpf for a

length of pipe can be calculated as follows:

HLpf = Ff (L 100)

Where: HLpf = Piping Friction Loss (feet)

Ff = Piping Friction Factor (from Moody Chart)

L

= Length Of Section Of Pipe (feet)

4 H110 Engineering Bulletin

find Ff is a rather laborious task. Therefore, a second method of

calculating head loss due to friction within the pipe was formulated which

is much simpler than the first. This method allows the user to read the

pipe friction factor (Ff) directly from a chart. A separate chart must be

used for each type of pipe because the roughness of the interior will vary

with the different materials and manufacturing processes. Charts for

several common types of pipe are available in the A.S.H.R.A.E.

Fundamentals Handbook. The actual head loss in a section of pipe can

then be determined as follows:

HLpf = Ff (L 100)

Where:

= Piping Friction Factor (from A.S.H.R.A.E. Chart)

Ff

L

= Length Of Section Of Pipe (feet)

Head Losses In

Control Valves

(HLCV)

system. As water flows through the valve (restriction) a head loss

(pressure drop) occurs. The magnitude of the head loss is related to the

flow rate through the valve and the open area between the valve plug and

the orifice through which the plug moves.

For a fully open control valve:

HLcv

Where: HLcv

= Head Loss In Control Valve (feet)

CV

Manufacturer)

How is This

Information

Utilized?

described above, the following relationship may be ascertained. This

relationship assumes there is no heat loss or gain in the system and is valid

for any incompressible fluid.

Equation 1

Where: Point "1" is Upstream Of Point "2"

And:

Hp(1)

Hv(1)

He(1)

Hp(2)

Hv(2)

He(2)

Between Point 1 & 2 (feet)

* Hpump

* HLcv

how the pressure head, elevation head, velocity head, pump head and head

losses due to piping friction and control valve head losses are related for

any two points within a hydronic system (see Figure 6).

Since the pressure and elevation are known at point "A", it is possible to

determine the system pressure (head) at any other point within the system.

In Figure 6 the reading of the pressure gage located at point "B" can be

determined as follows:

First calculate components of Equation 1. Figures 1 through 3 illustrate

how to make the calculations.

For Point # A:

Point # B:

Hp(A) = 50 feet

Hp(B) = ?

He(A) = 0 feet

He(B) = 50 feet

And:

Hpump

HLpf(A-B)

HLcv

H110 Engineering Bulletin

50 + 1.62 + 0 + 40 = Hp(2) + 1.62 + 50 + 13 + 20

Solving for Hp(2) yields:

Hp(2) = 7ft PB = 7 ft x 0.433 psig/ft = 3.03 psig

Effect of

Reduced

System Flow

Rates

open. It is now positioned such that the system flow rate is 1/2 of its

original value.

Equation 1 can also be used to evaluate partial flow conditions. A partial

flow analysis is very useful for determining how well a particular system

component will function through its total range of operation. In the case

of a control valve, it is useful to know the magnitude of the variation in

head loss at the control valve (HLcv) as a function of the system flow rate.

(Hp(1) - Hp(2)) + (Hv(1) + Hv(2)) + (He(1) - He(2)) = HLpf(1-2) + HLcv - Hpump

This time the piping system between points B and C will be analyzed with

point B as the upstream point. Because points B and C, in Figure 7, are

located next to one another; the difference is pressure head, velocity head

and elevation head between them is negligible. Therefore, the sum of all

of the terms on the left side of the equal sign in the rewritten form of

Equation 1 is equal to 0, leaving:

HLcv = Hpump - HLpf(1-2)

Since this hydronic system does not have either a system bypass or a

variable speed pump to perform pressure control, the value of Hpump will

increase as the flow rate is reduced. The amount of this increase can be

determined by referring to the pump curve shown in Figure 4.

The lower system flow rate will also reduce the value of the Ff and will

consequently lower HLpf(1-2). The new pipe friction factor can be

determined by one of two methods. The first method involves applying

the new reduced flow rate to the appropriate charts in the A.S.H.R.A.E.

Fundamentals Handbook. The second method involves applying the

following simple relationship to obtain the same result.

Ff(new) = Ff(old) x (Qnew Qold)2

Where: Ff(old) = Pipe Friction Factor With Valve Fully Open

Qnew = Current Flow Rate in gpm

Qold

pipe friction factor is calculated as shown below:

Ff(new) = 4 x (800 1600)2 = 1

The head loss across the control valve at the reduced flow rate can now be

calculated as follows:

HLcv = Hpump - HLpf

HLcv = 55 - [1 x 500 100)]

HLcv = 50 feet

System

Resistance

Curves

a system to the system flow rate is called a system resistance curve. A

particular system resistance curve is only valid for a fixed system. In other

words, if the orifice area of any component within the system changes, the

curvature of the system resistance curve will also change.

If the system resistance curve is overlaid onto a pump curve, the point

where the two curves intersect will determine the operating point of the

pump. In Figure 8 the intersection of system resistance curve #1 and the

pump curve is the design operating point of the pump. The intersection of

system resistance curve #2 and the pump curve represents the operating

point of the pump at 1/2 of the design flow rate. Notice that the pump is

developing more head at a lower flow rate.

The components of the system resistance curve shown in Figure 9 are

slightly different from those utilized in the system curves shown in

Figure 8. In Figure 9 the system curve represents only HLpf as a function

of system flow. It does not consider HLcv. Since the piping system

(excluding the control valve) is a fixed system, the system curve shown in

Figure 9 will not change.

Note that at 1/2 of the design system flow rate the head loss within the

piping is 1/4 of the value associated with the design flow rate. Based on

the previous discussion concerning the relationship between Ff and

changes in the system flow rate, this should have been expected.

vertical line between the system resistance curve and the pump curve

represents HLcv. Notice how dramatically the head loss across the control

valve increases as the system flow rate is decreased. For the control valve

shown in this example, HLcv will increase by 2.5 times when the flow rate

is reduced to 1/2 of its original value (value of "Y" value of "X" = 2.5).

Pressure shifts of this magnitude can cause unacceptable changes in the

operating characteristics of a control valve. These problems are discussed

in detail in Engineering Report H111.

11

Relationships

Derived From

Equation 1

themselves. For example, a relationship describing the factors which

influence pump selection can be easily determined. It is also possible to

determine which factors influence actuator sizing requirements for 2-way

control valves. These equations can be applied to both circulating and

non-circulating systems.

A circulating system is a system in which the water leaves the pump via

supply piping and returns to the pump piping (see Figure 10). In contrast,

in a non-circulating system the water which leaves the pump does not

return to the pump. The pump obtains water from a different source such

as a tank or city water (see Figure 11). Sprinkler systems and domestic

water systems are examples of non-circulating systems. Chilled, hot and

condenser water systems are typical circulating systems.

For Circulating Systems:

1. Hpump = HLpf + HLcv

Where:

HLpf

HLcv

pump and the control valve (feet)

= Control valve head loss (feet)

building will have no effect on sizing a pump. The pump must only be

sized to overcome the sum of the friction losses within the piping and

the pressure drop through a wide open control valve at design flow.

HLpf should be calculated at design flow for the longest water circuit,

assuming all piping was selected for the same Ff.

2. HLcv = Hpump - HLpf

It is desirable for the magnitude of HLcv to be held constant regardless

of the system flow rate. Unfortunately, in systems without pressure

control the value of HLcv is affected by Hpump and HLpf as shown.

Both Hpump and HLpf will change with the system flow rate.

Fortunately, many times hydronic systems have some means of

pressure control in the system. These can take the form of a variable

speed drive or a system bypass with its associated controls. Either of

these two schemes will reduce the possible variation in the magnitude

of HLcv. Pressure control can negate the effect of Hpump increasing at

lower system flow rates. Pressure control schemes, however, do not

affect HLpf. These concepts are discussed in detail in Engineering

Reports H111 and H112.

3.

Where:

Hcv

against (feet)

HLpf

between pump and the control valve (feet)

Once again Hp, Hv, and He have no effect on the actuator force

required to modulate the plug within a 2-way control valve. To

determine the worst case shut-off condition, Hpump should be set equal

to the shut-off head of the pump and HLpf should equal 0. These

conditions will occur at extremely low system flow rates in systems

without pressure control. This equation is not applicable to 3-way

control valves. The head against which a 3-way control valve must

close off will vary significantly based on the piping configuration.

13

4. Hpump = (He - Hp(ps)) + HLpf(p-cv) + HLcv

Where: Hpump

He

Hp(ps)

and worst case control valve (feet)

HLcv

have a significant impact on pump selection. To determine pump

sizing criteria, HLcv and HLpf(p-cv) should also be calculated at the

design flow rate. HLpf(p-cv) should be calculated for the longest piping

run assuming all piping was sized for the same Ff.

5. HLcv = Hpump + Hp(ps) - He(cv) - HLpf(p-cv)

Where: HLcv

Hpump

Hp(ps)

He(cv)

and control valve (feet)

Once again it is desirable for the magnitude of HLcv to be held as

constant as possible regardless of the system flow rate. In systems

without pressure control the value of HLcv will be affected by Hpump

and HLpf(p-cv). Hpump and HLpf(p-cv) both change with the system flow

rate. If a variable speed drive is utilized for pressure control, it can

negate the effect of the Hpump increasing at lower system flow rates.

Unfortunately, changes in HLpf(p-cv).will still cause the value of HLcv to

vary.

Hcv = Hpump + Hp(ps) - He(cv) - HLpf(p-cv)

6.

Where: Hcv

Hpump

Hp(ps)

He(cv)

control valve (feet)

To determine the worst case shut-off condition for a particular valve,

the value of Hpump should be equal to the pump shut-off head and the

value of HLpf(p-cv) should be set equal to 0.

14 H110 Engineering Bulletin

Notes

15

Notes

Controls Group

507 E. Michigan Street

P.O. Box 423

Milwaukee, WI 53201

Printed in U.S.A.

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