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Pipes and pipe sizing

• Pipe sizing is a crucial aspect of steam system design.

• There are a number of piping standards in existence, but the most global are those
derived by the American Petroleum Institute (API)

• Pipework is also covered in BS 1600

• In the United Kingdom, piping to EN 10255, (steel tubes and tubulars suitable for
screwing to BS 21 threads) is also used in applications where the pipe is screwed
rather than flanged. There are commonly referred to as “Blue band” and “Red
Band”. The different colours refer to particular grades of pipe.

• Red Band, being heavy grade, is commonly used for steam pipe applications

• Blue Band, being medium grade, is commonly used for air distribution systems,
although it is sometimes used for low-pressure steam system
Pipes and pipe sizing
• The coloured bands are 50mm wide, and their positions on the
pipe denote its length. Pipes less than 4m in length only have a
coloured band at one end, while pipes of 4 to 7 meters in length
have a coloured band at either end.

Heavy grade Medium grade between 4-7m in length

Pipe Materials
• Pipes for steam systems are commonly manufactured from
carbon steel to ASME B 16.9 A106. The same materials may be
used for condensate lines, although copper tubing is preferred in
some industrials.

• For high temperature superheated steam mains, additional

alloying elements, such as chromium and molybdenum, are
included to improve tensile strength and creep resistance at high
temperatures. Typically, pipes are supplied in 6 meter length
Pipeline Sizing
• The objective of the steam distribution system is to supply steam at the correct
pressure to the point of use. It follows, therefore, that pressure drop through the
distribution system is an important feature.

• Theory on Fluid Flow

Bernoulli’s theorem state that for fluid flow to occur, there must be more energy at
point (1) than point (2). The difference in energy is used to overcome friction
resistance between the pipe and the flowing fluid
Pipeline Sizing
• Bernoulli relates changes in the total energy of a flowing fluid to energy dissipation expressed
either in terms of a head loss hf (m) or specific energy loss g hf (J/kg). This, in itself, is not very
useful without being able to predict the pressure losses that will occur in particular

• Here, one of the most important mechanisms of energy dissipation within a flowing fluid is
introduced, that is, the loss in total mechanical energy due to friction at the wall of a uniform pipe
carrying a steady flow of fluid.

The loss in the total energy of fluid flowing through a circular pipe must depend on:
L = The length of the pipe (m)
D = The pipe diameter (m)
u = The mean velocity of the fluid flow (m/s)
μ = The dynamic viscosity of the fluid (kg/m s=Pa s)
ρ = The fluid density (kg/m3)
ks = The roughness of the pipe wall* (m)

*Since the energy dissipation is associated with shear stress at the pipe wall, the nature
of the wall surface will be influential, as a smooth surface will interact with the fluid in
a different way than a rough surface.
Pipe Sizing
• As a quick means to size pipe for a fluid flow one can use a simple
relationship between flow in m3/s as a starting point.

• The next issue is what is the target velocity?

• Once the trial size is chosen based on the desired amount of flow, the friction
losses and the amount of horsepower for pumping or driving the fluid over the
length of the pipe can be estimated and the economic calculation made.

• As the pipe size goes down the friction and therefore energy requirements
goes higher.

• As the pipe size and its fixtures grow the energy required goes down but the
capital costs increase
Head Loss to Friction in a Pipe
• The term that relates fluid density, velocity and viscosity and the pipe diameter is
called the Reynolds number, named after Osborne Reynolds (1842-1912, of Owens
College, Manchester, United Kingdom), who pioneered this technical approach to
energy losses in flowing fluids circa 1883.

• The formula now commonly used to evaluate head loss to friction in a pipe is as

• Observations shown that its value depends primarily on the relative roughness of the
pipe surface, but also on the Reynolds number of the flow as demonstrated by the
next slide.
Pipe Roughness

• The pipe roughness or “ks” value (often quoted as “e” in some texts) is taken from
standard tables, and for commercial steel pipe would generally be taken as
0.000045 meters.

• From this the relative roughness is determined (as this is what the Moody chart
requires) see the next slide.

• Relative pipe roughness (Ks/D) is give as

Moody Chart

• Determine the velocity, friction factor, and difference in pressure between two
points 1km apart in a 150mm constant bore horizontal pipe works system if the
water flow rate is 45m3/h at 15oC.

• 2.32m3/s of water is pumped in a 35mm internal diameter pipe through a distance of

125m in a horizontal direction and then up through a vertical height of 12m. The
friction lass in the 90o squire elbow may be taken as equivalent to 60 pipe diameter.
Also in the line there is a control valve fully open and friction losses may be taken
as equivalent to 200 pipe diameter. Calculate the total head ∆ℎ𝑓𝑇 to be developed to
overcome the total friction losses in the pipeline. You may assume that friction pipe
𝑓 = 0.079𝑅𝑒−0.25 . Assume the water to flow in turbulent regime through the pipe.
Density and viscosity of water in the pipe are 100kg/m3 and 0.65 N/m2s
Steam Pipe (Oversized)
• Oversized pipe work
– Pipes, valves, fittings, etc will be more expansive than necessary
– Higher installation costs, will be incurred including support work, insulation etc

• For steam pipe a greater volume of condensate will be formed due to greater heat loss.
This in turn means that either – more steam trapping is required or – wet steam is
delivered to the point of use.
Undersized Pipe Work
• A lower pressure may only be available at the point of use. This may hinder equipment
performance due to only lower pressure steam being available

• There is a risk of steam starvation

• There is a greater risk of erosion, water hammer and noise due to inherent increase in
steam velocity.

• All these calls for proper selection of pipe size

• Determine the head loss to friction when water flows through 300m of 150mm
diameter galvanized steel pipe at 50 litres/s. for water at, say 15oC kinematic velocity
is 1.14mm2/s

• Calculate the steady rate at which oil (v = 10-5 m2/s) will flow though a cast-iron
pipe 100mm diameter and 120m long under a head difference of 5m. As yet Re is
unknown since the velocity is unknown. For cast iron (k = 0.25)
Next Lesson
• The next lesson will focus on sizing steam pipe work using pressure factor method
and nomogram chart