How to Reduce Pipe Friction Loss on an Industrial Pump
This Article Includes
- What is Pipe Friction Loss
- How Pipe Friction Loss Can be Reduced on an Industrial Pump Application?
- Benefits of Reducing Pipe Friction Loss
What is Pipe Friction Loss?
Pipe friction loss occurs as a result of friction created as fluid moves through an industrial pump, as well as through the discharge piping as the fluid is being pumped to its final destination.
Friction results from the movement of any fluid through a pump, pumping system, and pipe and pipe components. Fluid viscosity refers to how easily a fluid can flow, and can also be referred to as the “thickness” of a fluid.
The higher a liquid’s viscosity, the more friction that is created as the fluid moves through the inside of the pipe. This increase in friction can be referred to as friction energy loss. Ultimately, the molecules in a highly viscous fluid are cohesively bonded together, resulting in a greater amount of energy and force required to pump the fluid through the pumping system, the piping, and downstream of the pump.
Surface finish on the inside of the pipe is another factor to be considered. The rougher the surface finish, the greater the friction energy loss.
Likewise, pipe fittings, valves, pipe reducers, bends, and similar pipe components also add to friction energy loss. Each pipe component creates turbulence within the fluid which increases friction energy loss.
Physics plays an important role as well. When piping is smaller, the ratio of pipe surface area to liquid is greater. This compounds the effects of friction amounting to a greater loss of energy to the fluid.
Other factors are flow rate and length of the hose or pipe; the higher the flow rate and the longer the hose or pipe the greater the energy loss. This is a consequence of the formula for friction loss, which is as follows:
Friction loss = friction loss coefficient * flow rate / 100² * hose length / 100.
Quation: Friction loss = C (Q/100)² *L/100.
In this equation, Q equals the flow rate, and L is the length of the hose or pipe. You’ll notice that after Q gets divided by 100, it is then squared—or raised to the second power, which worsens the effect on the energy loss of the fluid.
To illustrate the impact of a greater flow rate, let’s say you have one fluid that moves through a pipe at a rate of 2 feet per second and another fluid that moves through a pipe at double the speed, or 4 feet per second. Even though the flow velocity is doubled, the effect on friction is far greater. This is because two raised to the second power is four, while four raised to the second power is 16. Therefore, the impact on friction increases 8-fold when the flow rate is doubled.
Referring back to the equation for friction loss, you may also notice that the value gets multiplied by L, a variable signifying length. This means greater pipe length can result in greater friction loss and more energy required to move the fluid to the desired location.
How Pipe Friction Loss Can Be Reduced on an Industrial Pump Application?
There are several ways to reduce the amount of energy you lose as liquid moves through the pipe. The most energy-efficient pumping systems maximize the forces applied from the pump to the fluid being transferred. Here are a few ways to reduce the amount of energy lost to friction:
- Increase the diameter of the pipe you’re using. This reduces the ratio of liquid moving against the pipe to that which isn’t immediately adjacent to it. As a result, the relative friction is considerably lower.
- Make your pipe shorter, which decreases the L (length) value of the length in the friction loss equation. Reducing the surface area that causes friction means less energy is lost.
- Reduce the number of fittings and the degrees of turns. Due to the pipe fittings, tees, valves, elbows, and similar pipe components causing turbulence, you can reduce energy loss by limiting the piping components. You can also use more gradual turns instead of sharp, 90-degree turns.
- Choose pipes with a smoother surface finish on the inside walls. This will also help reduce the friction energy loss because smoother surfaces cause less friction as the fluid moves through the pipe.
Benefits of Reducing Pipe Friction Loss
When you reduce pipe friction loss, the pumps will require less energy to move the fluid, resulting in thousands of dollars saved throughout the pump’s life cycle. This is relatively simple if you keep in mind the following adjustments:
- Wider pipe diameters
- Shorter pipes
- Fewer fittings, tees, valves, elbows, and similar pipe components
- More gradual turns as opposed to 90-degree elbows
- Pipes with smoother walls
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