Crack the code with Advanced Piping Systems’ Friction Loss Calculator
For many people, the thought of Leonardo DaVinci transports them back to the time they caught a glimpse of the smiling Mona Lisa at the Louvre, or getting stuck into the page-turning thriller mystery novel by Dan Brown.
But Leonardo DaVinci’s legacy isn’t just limited to one of the world’s most iconic artistic masterpieces, or a best-selling book.
As a prolific inventor and scientist, DaVinci was also responsible for discovering the phenomenon of friction.
His early experiments and laws laid the foundation for modern-day scientists to further explore friction in all its forms — including friction loss in pipes.
Caleb Craig is Advanced Piping Systems’ very own DaVinci when it comes to understanding how friction loss impacts piping systems.
While unavoidable, in this blog Caleb explains how you can ‘crack the code’ of friction loss with the help of Advanced Piping Systems’ Friction Loss Calculator, and even minimise its impacts by using HDPE pipe.
Friction loss explained
At its most basic level, friction loss occurs when a fluid that is flowing through a pipe comes into contact with the pipe’s surface.
“A flow of fluid through a pipe incurs friction loss, which is caused by water particles meeting irregularities in the pipe surface,” explains Caleb.
“This friction loss leads to a decrease in pressure.”
Depending on the size of your pipe, friction loss can have quite a dramatic effect on how the fluid will flow through your pipe in a certain period of time.
“Friction loss across a small section of pipe probably doesn’t make much difference to pressure, but if you have friction loss across kilometres of pipe, it makes a huge difference,” he said.
By accounting for friction loss, you’re able to determine what your decrease in pressure might be.
Why it’s important to account for friction loss
If friction loss within your pipe system has been calculated incorrectly (or hasn’t been accounted for at all), you can expect to receive an undersupply of fluid at the point of use.
This, in turn, can lead to some “catastrophic consequences” — particularly on mine sites and in major cities — explains Caleb.
“If friction loss is not allowed for in a pipe design system, this can cause major issues down the track,” he said.
“Water is a critical resource on mine sites, so if there isn’t enough water getting into the coolers, it can cause an overheat which could cause a plant to burn down.
“We could also take the example of a pipeline that’s been designed to supply a certain plant or neighbourhood with water.
“If the engineers have calculated that they require ‘X’ litres of water per hour out of a particular pipeline, but they don’t account for friction loss, it means that they won’t get the required amount of water out the end of the pipeline.”
“This could lead to serious water supply shortages for major cities – just imagine the amount of water that New York or Sydney would use in a day!”
How Advanced Piping Systems’ Friction Loss calculator works
To help account for friction loss within your pipe system, Advanced Piping Systems’ Friction Loss calculator is a handy tool to have at your disposal.
Quick and easy to use, simply input a few metrics, and in just seconds, you’ll know the friction loss coefficient for your piping system — saving you time, money and stress down the track.
“In the calculator, you put your flow rate, required flow rate, the diameter of the pipe, and the length of pipe,” explains Caleb.
“The calculator is able to tell you the friction loss coefficient or the friction loss in meters over your pipeline’s length.”
Additional strategies for minimising friction loss
As well as accounting for friction loss, there are a few extra steps you can also take to minimise its impacts.
“The two ways you can minimise friction loss are by increasing the diameter of the pipe to ensure you’re able to achieve the required flow rate, and choosing a smooth-surfaced poly pipe,” said Caleb.
HDPE pipe can limit the effects of friction loss, thanks to its smooth, slippery surface.
“In the past, cast iron, concrete pipes and copper pipes were commonly used.
“Cast iron has a rough surface compared to plastic pipe, and the amount of friction loss between a cast iron tube and a polyethylene tube of the same size is about 50 per cent — that’s to say, your friction loss will be 50 per cent less if you choose to use a plastic pipe over a cast iron pipe.
The same principle applies for concrete pipes.
“Concrete is a rough, porous surface so as the water’s going through, it’s creating all these little bits of turbulence along the pipe, which is slowing the body of fluid down.”
Another major factor to consider when calculating friction loss is the impact of corrosion and scaling.
“Corrosion occurs when charged ions in fluid interact, or eat away, at the metallic materials which causes pitting along the piping surface or joints,” explains Caleb.
“Plus, when you’re putting an acidic material or chemicals down a metal pipeline, that also creates pockets and pitting, and leads to a build-up of scaling.
“If we take a copper pipe as an example, the friction loss in 100 years’ time could be significantly more than what it is now, because of the corrosion and the scaling causing build-up inside the pipe.
“We’ve seen some awful pictures of build-up inside pipes, whereas with poly pipe, nothing reacts with it, so nothing sticks to it.”
You don’t need to be DaVinci to account for friction loss in your next pipe project – use Advanced Piping Systems’ Friction Loss Calculator.
To find out more about the benefits of HDPE pipe and get a quote, speak to a member of our highly skilled sales and customer service team.