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: January 2017 ME495 Pipe Characteristics Page 1- 1

ME495Thermo Fluids Laboratory gas in steel pipes, and the flow of heated air through
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ metal ducts of rectangular cross-section in a forced-air
furnace system. Industrial applications range from the
PIPE FLOW CHARACTERISTICS flow of liquid plastics in a manufacturing plant, to the
AND PRESSURE TRANSDUCER flow of yogurt in a food-processing plant. Because the
purpose of a piping system is to transport a desired
CALIBRATION quantity of fluid, it is important to understand the
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ various methods of measuring the flow rate.
In order to work with a fluid system, and certainly to
design a fluid system that will deliver a prescribed flow,
it is necessary to understand certain fundamental
aspects of the fluid flow. For this, one should be able to
answer questions like: Are compressibility effects
important? Is the flow laminar or turbulent? Is the
OBJECTIVE The objectives of this experiment are
viscosity of the fluid important or not? Is the flow
to: a) observe the characteristics of flow in a pipe, b)
steady or varying with time? What are the primary
evaluate the flow rate in a pipe using velocity and
forces of importance? For internal flows in pipes or
pressure difference measurements, and c) perform
ducts, the dominant forces are usually due to viscosity
the calibration of a pressure transducer. Upon
and pressure. The velocity profile within the pipe is an
completing this experiment, you should have learned (i)
important factor since the viscous forces depend upon
how to measure the flow rate and average velocity in a
the shear rate and hence on the velocity gradient at the
pipe using a Pitot tube and an orifice flow meter, and
wall of a pipe. Being able to answer the above questions
(ii) how to classify the general characteristics of a pipe
and to understand their implications on the flow
through a pipe is crucial in being able to successfully
design and operate a pipe flow system.
a = speed of sound, m/s In this lab you will study the flow of air in a 4-inch
A = area, m2 diameter pipe. Two concomitant methods will be used
C = discharge coefficient, dimensionless to measure flow: a special type of Pitot tube, a Kiel
d = pipe diameter, m probe and an orifice meter. The Pitot tube will allow
d0 = orifice diameter, m you to determine the shape of the velocity profile at the
E = velocity approach factor, dimensionless exit of the pipe while the orifice plate will allow you to
f = Darcy friction factor, dimensionless determine the flow rate and average velocity in the pipe.
K0 = flow coefficient, dimensionless THEORY
k = ratio of specific heats (cp/cv), dimensionless
L = length of pipe, m Compressible vs. Incompressible
M = Mach number, dimensionless
p = pressure, Pa Flow in a pipe (internal flow) can be classified as
p0 = stagnation pressure, Pa incompressible or compressible. An incompressible
p1, p2 = pressure at two axial locations along a flow is one in which density variations are negligible.
pipe, Pa Most liquid flows are considered incompressible since
Q = volumetric flow rate, m3/s it takes a tremendous amount of applied pressure to
R = specific gas constant, Jkg/K increase the fluid density by a measurable amount. For
Re = Reynolds number, dimensionless instance, it takes about 3200 psi (over 200 atm) of
T = temperature, K applied pressure to change the density of water by 1%.
V = local velocity, m/s Gases, on the other hand, are very compressible. The
V = average velocity, m/s ideal gas law,
Y = adiabatic expansion factor, dimensionless
= ratio of orifice diameter to pipe diameter, p RT
p = pressure drop across an orifice meter, Pa shows that the density of a gas is directly proportional
= dynamic viscosity, Pas to its pressure. For practical purposes, the behavior of
= air density, kg/m3 flowing gas is different from gas in a closed system. A
guideline used to decide if compressibility plays a
significant role in the flow of a gas is the value of the
INTRODUCTION The flow of a fluid (liquid or Mach number,
gas) through pipes or ducts is a common part of many
engineering systems. Household applications include
the flow of water in copper pipes, the flow of natural M V / a
Rev. January 2017 ME495 - Pipe Flow Characteristics Page 2

where V is the speed of the object relative to the wall and more energy is dissipated through friction.
medium, and a is the speed of sound for an ideal gas. Furthermore, in a turbulent flow, the pipe roughness
If M 0.3 , then the gas density varies by less than 5% affects the energy dissipation whereas roughness
typically does not affect a laminar flow in this way.
and the flow can be considered incompressible.
Steady vs. Unsteady
Laminar vs. Turbulent
A steady flow is one that does not vary in time. If an
The second major classification for an internal flow
observer observes any arbitrary point in a flow field and
concerns the smoothness of the flow. A laminar flow
notes that the velocity at that point does not vary over
is one in which the flow tends to stay in separate,
time (except for small, random fluctuations), then the
smooth layers. That is, a given fluid particle will tend
flow is called steady. On the other hand, if the
to stay at a single radial position in a circular pipe and
velocity does vary over time the flow is unsteady.
not mix with adjacent layers of fluid. Turbulent flows,
Whether or not a flow is steady or unsteady has
on the other hand, are characterized by significant
implications on the type of flow measurement system
mixing of flow between various layers of a fluid. The
one might select or design. If the flow is unsteady, care
Reynolds number, as defined below, is used to specify
must be taken to ensure the flow measurement system
whether or not a pipe flow is laminar or turbulent:
responds quickly to changes in the flow rate such that
the measurements are accurate.
Velocity and Flow Rate Measurement
Pitot Tube. A common method of measuring the
It is generally accepted that flow in a pipe is laminar if velocity of a fluid is to use a Pitot tube (see Fig. 1a).
the Reynolds number is less than 2,300, in transition When directed into an incoming flow, a Pitot tube will
from laminar to turbulent if 2,300 < Re < 4,000, and measure the stagnation (total) pressure of the flow. If
turbulent if Re > 4,000. These numbers, though widely the flow is incompressible and inviscid, Bernoullis
accepted, are guidelines based upon experimental equation can be applied as follows to determine the
observations and should not be considered absolute. local flow speed [1]:
For instance, in a well-controlled flow experiment,
laminar pipe flow has been observed at Reynolds
numbers well in excess of 2,300 (up to values on the 2 ( p0 p )
V (1)
order of 100,000).

There are many significant differences between laminar A Kiel probe will be used in the lab to make
and turbulent pipe flows. At a similar flow rate, in a measurements of the stagnation pressure (see Fig. 1b).
turbulent flow the velocity gradient near the pipe wall A Kiel probe is less sensitive to errors in misalignment
is steeper than in a laminar flow, with the result that a with the flow direction due to the shroud surrounding
turbulent flow exerts a larger shear stress on the pipe the pressure port.

(a) (b)

Figure 1: (a) Pitot tube inserted in a pipe with associated static pressure tap; (b) Kiel probe showing
the shroud around the pressure port.

Due to the no-slip condition, the fluid in contact with will have zero speed. Thus a significant increase in the
a boundary has the same speed as the boundary. Since flow velocity will occur between the wall and the
the pipe is stationary, the air in contact with the pipe centerline of the pipe where the flow velocity is

Rev. January 2017 ME495 - Pipe Flow Characteristics Page 3

maximum. In order to calculate a flow rate using

measurements made with a Pitot tube, it is necessary

to measure the flow speed at several radial locations at can be computed by approximating the integral in Eq.
a given pipe cross-section. Recall that volumetric flow 2 with a sum:
rate is defined as

Q V dA V A (2)
i 1
i i (3)

where Vi and Ai are the local velocity and area of each

If stagnation pressure measurements are made at the
radial locations shown in Figure 2, then the flow rate of the N slices of pipe cross-sectional area,

Figure 2: Location of stagnation pressure measurements along a pipe cross-section.

Orifice Plate Flow Meter. Restriction flow meters such the pressure drop across the orifice, and is the fluid
as the Venturi tube, flow nozzle, and orifice plate are density. The flow coefficient is further defined as
commonly used to measure flow rate. These devices
restrict the flow and thereby cause a pressure drop to
K0 CE (6)
occur. The measured pressure drop can then be related
to the flow rate using Eqn 5. A diagram of an orifice
meter is shown in Fig. 3. where

By combining Bernoullis equation and conservation of 1

E (7)
mass to a control volume surrounding the orifice meter,
and including empirical coefficients to account for (1 4 )
viscous and compressibility effects, the following
relation for volumetric flow rate results [3, 4, 5]: and
2( p ) d
Q K 0 AY (5)

Here, is the ratio of orifice to pipe diameter, C is
Here K 0 is an empirical flow coefficient, A is the area an empirical discharge coefficient that is a function of
the Reynolds number and , and E is the velocity
of the orifice, Y is an empirical adiabatic expansion
factor and accounts for compressibility effects, p is approach factor. Values of the flow coefficient and
adiabatic expansion factor are tabulated in Reference 4
(an excerpt of it is available in the lab).

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Orifice Plate (side view)

Orifice Plate (front view)

Figure 3: Orifice plate flow meter shown with various possible pressure tap arrangements.

EXPERIMENTAL APPARATUS An illustration Table 1. Apparatus Components List

of the experimental apparatus is shown in Figure 4.
Table 1 shows the list of the apparatus components. The 1 4 acrylic pipe
setup consists of a 4-inch acrylic pipe, a Kiel probe, a
Dwyer micromanometer (for calibration of the pressure 2 Kiel probe
transducer), a differential pressure transducer, and an
orifice plate flow meter. 3 Dwyer micromanometer

Flow through the pipe is controlled by a butterfly valve. 4 Validyne differential pressure transducers
The micromanometer provides a highly accurate
differential pressure measurement, and is used as the 5 Tape measure
laboratory standard in calibrating the pressure
transducer. Expect the output of the differential 6 Calipers
pressure transducers calibration to be highly linear.
7 Ruler with centimeter scale
Transducers of this type are quite versatile and are
relatively accurate over a reasonably large range of
8 Duct tape
input pressures. Instructions for operation of the
pressure transducer are provided in the Appendix A of 9 Various sizes of orifice plates
this document. ASME data on fluid meters for use with
the orifice meter will be supplied in the lab.

Figure 4: Illustration of the experimental set-up.


Rev. January 2017 ME495 - Pipe Flow Characteristics Page 5

Consult with your teammates if there are any 6. Compute the maximum velocity and the average
atmospheric measurements that you should take before velocity in the pipe.
beginning the experiment.
7. Compare and contrast each method of computing
1. Prior to starting measurements, review and the flow rate and average velocity, and comment on
understand the definitions of gage pressure, vacuum the strengths and weaknesses of each.
pressure, absolute pressure and differential pressure.
8. Characterize the flow in the pipe as fully developed,
2. Familiarize with the experimental apparatus and laminar or turbulent, compressible or
objectives. Devise a plan for taking data. Be sure to incompressible, steady or unsteady. Cite at least two
consider the elements of a data acquisition plan as observations or calculations that justify your
described in Ch. 1 of your textbook by Figliola and answer.
9. Compare the volumetric flow computed from
3. Collect data for the pressure transducer calibration integration of the exit velocity profile with that
using the Kiel probe and the micromanometer. The determined using the orifice plate.
calibration should relate voltage to pressure at 4 to 6
values of pressure, capturing any hysteresis effects 10. Comment on how does the presence of the orifice
that may be present. meter affects the velocity profile shape and why?
What were the Reynolds number and Mach number
4. Before beginning your measurements, ask the lab for flow in the pipe?
instructor for an orifice plate. Insert the orifice plate
into the pipe and seal the opening with duct tape.
5. Ensure that the control handle on the fan generating Note: Use SI units throughout your report.
the air flow through the pipe is set appropriately.
Now you are ready to perform the flow
measurements using the orifice meter or the Kiel REFERENCES
probe. Fox, R. W., and McDonald, A. T., Introduction to
Fluid Mechanics, 4th ed., John Wiley & Sons, New
6. Measure the pressure drop across the orifice plate. York, 1992, Chapter 6-3.3.
7. Measure the velocity profile at the exit plane of the Figliola, R.S., and Beasley, D. E., Theory and Design
acrylic pipe. Consider where the largest velocity for Mechanical Measurements, 2nd ed., John Wiley &
gradients will be located when planning your Sons, New York, 1995, Chapter 10.4.
measurement increments.
Fox, R. W., and McDonald, A. T., Introduction to
Are there any atmospheric measurements you should Fluid Mechanics, 4th ed., John Wiley & Sons, New
take at the conclusion of your experiment? York, 1992, Chapter 10.
ASME Research Committee, Fluid Meters, 5th ed.,
EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS and DISCUSSION The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New
1. Provide the pressure transducer calibration York, 1959.
Figliola, R.S., and Beasley, D. E., Theory and Design
2. Comment on the uncertainty of the calibration for Mechanical Measurements, 2nd ed., John Wiley &
equation and on the possible sources of error that Sons, New York, 1995, Chapter 10.5.
affected the calibration process. Fox, R. W., and McDonald, A. T., Introduction to
3. Determine volumetric flow rate and average Fluid Mechanics, 4th ed., John Wiley & Sons, New
velocity using the pressure drop across the orifice York, 1992, Chapter 8.
plate and the provided ASME data on flow meters. Munson, B.R., Young, D.F., and Okiishi, T.H.,
4. Plot the horizontal and vertical velocity profile, at Fundamentals of Fluid Mechanics, 3rd ed., John Wiley
the exit of the pipe. & Sons, New York, 1998.

5. Determine the flow rate through the pipe by

numerically integrating the velocity profile.

Rev. January 2017 ME495 - Pipe Flow Characteristics Page 6


Validyne Engineering Corp.

Instructions for the DP45 Differential Pressure Transducers

1. Be sure the pressure transducers are properly wired to the back of the demodulator before turning the power

The transducers should be wired as follows:

IN: Black and Red wires twisted together

C1: Green wire
C2: White wire
OUT: + Output signal (Transducer not wired to this terminal)
COM: - Output signal (Transducer not wired to this terminal)

2. Be sure the power strip on the demodulator cart is plugged in and the power is on.

3. Press the power button on the front of the demodulator to turn it on.

4. Use the channel selector to select the appropriate channel (as indicated on the screw terminal on the back of
the demodulator).

5. When pressures are measured, be sure the pressure transducer is in a vertical position.

6. Use the ZERO adjustment on the demodulator to zero the voltage reading when both ports on the transducer
are at the same pressure. (The easiest way to be sure both ports are at the same pressure is to attach a short
piece of Tygon tubing between the ports.)

7. Only use the SPAN adjustment on the demodulator when the transducer is being calibrated.

8. The maximum pressure the DP45-16 pressure transducer will measure is 1.4 inH20 (differential).

9. The maximum voltage output of the demodulator is 10.0 Vdc.

10. Therefore, at 1.4 inH20 differential pressure, the voltage output should be 10.0 Vdc.

11. The output terminals on the back of the demodulator should output the same dc voltage as indicated on the
LCD display on the front of the demodulator. (Note: the OUT and COM terminals on the far lower left of
the screw panel will output the voltage of which ever channel is selected).