Pipe Flow Calculator. Liquid or Gas Pipe Design

Pipe flow calculator for pressure, flow, diameter, elevation, pump, minor losses, pipe sizing. Darcy-Weisbach friction. Friction factor using Colebrook equation for Moody Diagram. Turbulent or laminar flow.


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Flow Rate, Q (gpm): 
Velocity: Vpipe, V2 (ft/s): 
Pipe Diameter, D (inch): 
Select Pipe Material and Fluid:  Pipe Area, A (ft2): 
Length, L (ft): 
Surface Roughness, e (ft): 
Fluid Density (lb/ft3): 
Select Calculation and Scenario:  Fluid Viscosity (ft2/s): 
Minor Loss Coefficient, Km
Elevation Difference, Z1-Z2 (ft): 
Select Units:  Pressure Diff., P1-P2 (psi): 
Pump Head, Hp (ft): 
Pump Power (hp): 
Driving Head, DH (ft): 
Ratio, e/D: 
Reynolds Number, Re: 
Friction Factor, f: 
Major (Friction) Loss, hf (ft): 
Minor Loss, hm (ft): 
© 2015 LMNO Engineering,  Research, and Software, Ltd. www.LMNOeng.com

Units in pipe flow calculator: cfs=cubic foot per second, cm=centimeter, cP=centipoise, cSt=centistoke, ft=foot, g=gram, gal=U.S. gallon, gpd=U.S. gallon per day, gpm=U.S. gallon per minute, hp=horsepower, kg=kilogram, lb=pound, m=meter, min=minute, N=Newton, Pa=Pascal, psi=lb/inch2, s=second

Pipe flow calculator topics:  Pipe Flow Scenarios   Equations   Minor Loss Coefficients   Common Questions   References 

Our pipe flow calculator is based on the steady state incompressible energy equation utilizing Darcy-Weisbach friction losses as well as minor losses. The pipe flow calculation can compute flow rate, velocity, pipe diameter, elevation difference, pressure difference, pipe length, minor loss coefficient, and pump head (total dynamic head). The density and viscosity of a variety of liquids and gases are coded into the pipe flow program, but you can alternatively select "User defined fluid" and enter the density and viscosity for fluids not listed. Though some industries use the term "fluid" when referring to liquids, we use it to mean either liquids or gases in our pipe flow calculator. The pipe flow calculation allows you to select from a variety of piping scenarios which are discussed below.

Comments on gas flow
As mentioned above, the equations that our pipe flow calculator is based upon are for incompressible flow. The incompressible flow assumption is valid for liquids. It is also valid for gases if the pressure drop is less than 40% of the upstream pressure. Crane (1988, p. 3-3) states that if the pressure drop is less than 10% of the upstream gage pressure (gage pressure is pressure relative to atmospheric pressure) and an incompressible model is used, then the gas density should be based on either the upstream or the downstream conditions. If the pressure drop is between 10% and 40% of the upstream gage pressure, then the density should be based on the average of the upstream and downstream conditions. If the pressure drop exceeds 40% of the upstream gage pressure, then a compressible pipe flow model, like the Weymouth, Panhandle A, or Panhandle B should be used.

Pipe Flow Scenarios
Since boundary conditions affect the flow characteristics, our pipe flow calculator allows you to select whether your locations 1 and 2 are within pipes, at the surface of open reservoirs, or in pressurized mains (same as pressurized tank). If there is no pump between locations 1 and 2, then enter the pump head (Hp) as 0.

Piping Scenarios

Steady State Energy Equation           Back to Pipe Flow Calculator         References
The first equation shown is the steady state energy equation for incompressible pipe flow. The left side of the equation contains what we call the driving heads. These heads include heads due to a pump (if present), elevation, pressure, and velocity. The terms on the right side are friction loss and minor losses. Friction losses are computed using the Darcy Weisbach friction loss equation. The friction factor for turbulent flow is found using the Colebrook equation which represents the Moody diagram. f is the Moody friction factor. The pipe flow equations are well-accepted in the field of fluid mechanics and can be found in many references such as Cimbala and Cengel (2008), Munson et al. (1998), and Streeter et al. (1998).

Energy Equation using Darcy Weisbach Friction Loss

The pipe flow equations above are dimensionally correct which means that the units for the variables are consistent. A consistent set of English units would be mass in slugs, weight and force in pounds, length in feet, and time in seconds. SI units are also a consistent set of units with mass in kilograms, weight and force in Newtons, length in meters, and time in seconds. Our pipe flow calculator allows you to enter a variety of units and automatically performs the unit conversions.

A = Pipe cross-sectional area, ft2 or m2.
D = Pipe diameter, ft or m.
Driving Head (DH) = left side of the first equation (or right side of the equation), ft or m. This is not total dynamic head.
e = Pipe surface roughness, ft or m. Select from the drop-down menu in our calculation. Additional values.
f = Moody friction factor, unit-less. Do not confuse the Moody f with the Fanning friction factor. f = 4 fFanning .
g = acceleration due to gravity = 32.174 ft/s2 = 9.8066 m/s2.
hf = Major (friction) losses, ft or m.
hm = Minor losses, ft or m.
Hp = Pump head (also known as Total Dynamic Head), ft or m.
Km = Sum of minor losses coefficients. See table below.
log = Common (base 10) logarithm.
Pump Power (computed by program) = SQHp, lb-ft/s or N-m/s. Theoretical pump power. Does not include an inefficiency term. Note that 1 horsepower = 550 ft-lb/s.
P1 = Upstream pressure, lb/ft2 or N/m2.
P2 = Downstream pressure, lb/ft2 or N/m2.
Re = Reynolds number, unit-less.
Q = Flow rate in pipe, ft3/s or m3/s.
S = Weight density, lb/ft3 or N/m3.
V = Velocity in pipe, ft/s or m/s.
V1 = Upstream velocity, ft/s or m/s.
V2 = Downstream velocity, ft/s or m/s.
Z1 = Upstream elevation, ft or m.
Z2 = Downstream elevation, ft or m.
v = Kinematic viscosity, ft2/s or m2/s. Note that kinematic viscosity = dynamic viscosity divided by density.

All of our calculations utilize double precision. Newton's method (a numerical method) is used to solve the Colebrook equation accurate to 8 significant digits. A cubic solver (numerical method) is used for "Solve for V, Q," "Q known. Solve for Pipe Diameter," and "V known. Solve for Pipe Diameter." More than one solution is possible for these three calculations since there could be a result in the laminar range and the turbulent range. There may even be two possible results in the laminar range for "Solve for V, Q" if scenario D or G is selected. All of the possible solutions are computed and output. If multiple solutions are computed, please click in the numeric field and click the right arrow key to see all of the digits. If you have selected "Q known. Solve for Pipe Diameter," and scenario D or G, you must enter Km >1. All calculations are analytic (closed form) except as mentioned here.

Table of Minor Loss Coefficients for Pipe Flow Calculator (Km is unit-less)   References     Back to Pipe Flow Calculator

Fitting Km Fitting Km
Valves:   Elbows:  
Globe, fully open 10 Regular 90°, flanged 0.3
Angle, fully open 2 Regular 90°, threaded 1.5
Gate, fully open 0.15 Long radius 90°, flanged 0.2
Gate 1/4 closed 0.26 Long radius 90°, threaded 0.7
Gate, 1/2 closed 2.1 Long radius 45°, threaded 0.2
Gate, 3/4 closed 17 Regular 45°, threaded 0.4
Swing check, forward flow 2    
Swing check, backward flow infinity Tees:  
    Line flow, flanged 0.2
180° return bends:   Line flow, threaded 0.9
Flanged 0.2 Branch flow, flanged 1.0
Threaded 1.5 Branch flow, threaded 2.0
Pipe Entrance (Reservoir to Pipe):   Pipe Exit (Pipe to Reservoir)  
Square Connection 0.5 Square Connection 1.0
Rounded Connection 0.2 Rounded Connection 1.0
Re-entrant (pipe juts into tank) 1.0 Re-entrant (pipe juts into tank) 1.0


Common Questions about the Pipe Flow Calculator                                          Back to Pipe Flow Calculator 
I took fluid mechanics and learned about pipe flow calculations a long long time ago. What is head? Why does it have units of length? Head is energy per unit weight of fluid (i.e. Force x Length/Weight = Length). The pipe flow calculator on this page solves the energy equation (shown above); we call energy "head."
Why is Pressure=0 for a reservoir?
 A reservoir is open to the atmosphere, so its gage pressure is zero.
Why is Velocity=0 for a reservoir? This is a common assumption in fluid mechanics and is based on the fact that a reservoir has a large surface area. Therefore, the liquid level drops very little even if a lot of liquid flows out of the reservoir. A reservoir may physically be a lake or a large diameter tank.
What is a "main" and a "lateral"? A "main" is a large diameter supply pipe that has many smaller diameter "laterals" branching off of it. In fluid mechanics, we set V=0 for the main since it has a large diameter (relative to the lateral) and thus a very small velocity. To further justify the V=0 assumption, the main's pressure is typically high, so the velocity head in the main is negligible. The main is drawn such that it is coming out of your computer monitor.
Can I calculate pipe flow between two reservoirs using either Scenario B or E? Yes, you can. If using Scenario E, just set P1-P2=0. Scenario B automatically sets P1-P2=0.
Can I calculate pipe flow between two mains using either Scenario B or E? Only if the pressure is the same in both mains.
How do I model a pipe discharging freely to the atmosphere? Use Scenario A, C, or F. Since P2=0 (relative to atmospheric pressure), P1-P2 that is input or output will be P1.
What are minor losses? Minor losses in pipe flow calculations are head (energy) losses due to valves, pipe bends, pipe entrances (for fluid flowing from a tank to a pipe), and pipe exits (fluid flowing from a pipe to a tank), as opposed to a major loss which is due to the friction of fluid flowing through a length of pipe. Minor loss coefficients (Km) are tabulated below. For our pipe flow calculator, all of the pipes have the same diameter, so you can add up all your minor loss coefficients and enter the sum in the Minor Loss Coefficient input box.
Why do I sometimes get the message when running the pipe flow calculator, "Infeasible Input"? The governing equations for fluid flow must be satisfied. Fluids must flow from higher energy to lower energy; driving head must always be > 0. Pipe roughness, fluid viscosity, pipe diameter, and velocity must be such that the Reynolds number is <=108 and other conditions shown with the pipe flow equations below are satisfied. It is possible to enter values into the pipe flow calculator that are not physically or mathematically feasible.
I'm confused about pumps. Only input Pump Head if the pump is between points 1 and 2. Otherwise, enter 0 for Pump Head. Pump Head, Hp, is also known as total dynamic head.
Your pipe flow calculator is great! What are its limitations? Pipes must all have the same diameter. Pump curves cannot be implemented.
What is Driving Head? See above in the variable definitions.

Pipe Flow Calculator References               Back to Calculation 
Cimbala, John M. and Yunus A. Cengel. 2008. Essentials of Fluid Mechanics: Fundamentals and Applications. McGraw-Hill.

Crane Co. 1988. Flow of Fluids through Valves, Fittings, and Pipe. Technical Paper 40 (TP-40). http://www.craneco.com.

Munson, Bruce R. Donald F. Young, and Theodore H. Okiishi. 1998. Fundamentals of Fluid Mechanics. John Wiley and Sons. Inc. 3ed.

Streeter, Victor L., E. Benjamin Wylie, and Keith W. Bedford. 1998. Fluid Mechanics. McGraw-Hill. 9ed.


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Please contact us for consulting or questions about pipe flow.

LMNO Engineering, Research, and Software, Ltd.
7860 Angel Ridge Rd.   Athens, Ohio  45701  USA   Phone: (740) 707-2614
LMNO@LMNOeng.com    https://www.LMNOeng.com


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Unit Conversions