water flows through a pipe

Pipe Flow Tips by Agru Australia

A fluid can be either liquid or gaseous. They flow from storage to the point of use via a piping system in the industry. We often speak about what flows through the pipe as a part of system design. When materials interact with distinct fluids, how well does it perform in terms of corrosion and temperature resistance is an important factor to consider while designing systems. Pressure loss and equipment performance are improved by good design and installation of the piping system.

An equally important factor is how the fluid is moving through the pipe. The flow rate determines how long a system lasts as well as how much energy it uses. This article briefly explains what pipe flow is and its applications.

water flows through a pipe

The Science behind Pipe Flow

Pipe flow is a term used to describe the movement of fluids through pipes. When water flows through pipes, it creates a pressure difference across the pipe walls. This pressure difference causes the fluid to move through the pipe. This phenomenon is called “pipe flow.”

Pipe flow is important for many different applications, such as sewage systems, irrigation systems, and industrial processes. 

A simple example of pipe flow is the flow of water through a garden hose. If you squeeze the hose tightly, the water moves quickly through the hose. If you release the pressure, the water slows down. Why does this happen?

Because the water exerts force against the sides of the hose. As the water pushes against the sides of the tube, the water inside the tube tries to push back. This creates a pressure difference across each side of the tube. This pressure difference forces the water to move through the tube. 

Pipes are made up of different materials, each with its own properties. Some materials expand when heated, while others contract. These changes affect how easily the material can flow through the pipe. Pipe flow depends on the type of pipe and the temperature of the fluid. When the temperature of the fluid is low, the fluid tends to flow more quickly. But when the temperature of the fluid rises, the fluid becomes thicker and requires more force to push through the pipe. It also varies depending on whether the pipe is full or empty.

Importance of Pipe Flow

Pipe flow is one of the most important parameters used in many industries such as oil & gas, chemical, power generation, pulp & paper, food processing, water treatment, pharmaceutical, etc. Pipe flow measurement is essential to ensure that the product meets its specifications and that the plant operates efficiently. Pipeline operators need to know the exact quantity of fluids flowing through pipelines.  In agriculture, it is used to determine the amount of water needed to irrigate crops, and in industry, it is used to calculate the amount of water needed for cooling purposes.

The size of the piping systems is another major variable in flow rate design. To cut down on investment expenses, some engineers may lower the pipe size to enhance the flow rate. Higher flow rates, on the other hand, might reduce the life of metallic components due to erosion and possible surge pressures.

The major advantages of measuring the flow rate of fluids include,

  • Improving efficiency
  • Reducing energy consumption
  • Ensuring safety
  • Increasing productivity
  • Monitoring the performance of equipment
  • Measuring the volume of fluids passing through a pipeline
  • Identifying leaks in pipelines
  • Measuring the speed of the flow of liquids through a pipeline
  • To determine the rate of flow of a substance through a pipeline
  • To identify the cause of blockages

Applications of Pipe Flow

Here are some examples of the application of pipe flow,

  • Hydraulic fracturing – When oil companies drill deep wells to extract oil, they inject fluids into the wellbore at very high pressures. These fluids cause cracks in the rock surrounding the wellbore. This allows the oil to flow out of the well.
  • Water distribution – Water is distributed throughout cities using pipes. To ensure that everyone has access to clean drinking water, the pipes must be able to distribute water at a certain rate.
  • Sewage treatment – Wastewater is treated in large tanks called lagoons. The wastewater is pumped into these tanks and allowed to settle. After settling, the liquid is collected and sent to a treatment plant.
  • Firefighting – During fires, firefighters pump water into buildings to extinguish the flames. If the water is not pumped fast enough, the building may collapse.
  • Oil production – Oil companies use pumps to remove oil from underground reservoirs. If the pumps are not working properly, the oil will not be extracted efficiently.
  • Geothermal energy – Geothermal power plants heat water to produce electricity. If the water is heated too slowly, the steam produced will not be converted into electricity.
  • Agriculture – Farmers use irrigation systems to water their crops. If the water is delivered too slowly or not evenly, the crops may dry up.

What Happens When Pipe Flow Is Done Wrong?

There are several difficulties in the upstream sector of the oil and gas business. Pipe flow, on the other hand, is generally maintained by a requirement to withstand internal pressure in conventional pipeline design. 

If pipe flow is done in the wrong way, then the following things could happen,

  1. Overflow: Overflowing is when the amount of fluid flowing out of the pipe exceeds the capacity of the pipe. The overflow occurs due to the difference between the inflow rate and the outflow rate. In this case, the pipe has an internal diameter smaller than the pipe’s external diameter. As a result, the pipe cannot hold the entire volume of fluid. When the pipe overflows, the fluid spills over the edge of the pipe.
  2. Underflow: Underflowing is when the flow rate of fluid entering the pipe is less than the flow rate of fluid leaving the pipe. The underflow occurs because the pipe is too small to accommodate the entire volume of fluid entering the pipe. When the pipe is too small, the fluid flows into the pipe until the pipe is full. Once the pipe is full, the fluid stops flowing into the pipe.
  3. Pressure drop: Pressure drop is the reduction in the pressure of the fluid as it travels through the pipe. Pressure drop happens due to friction, turbulence, and other factors.
  4. Flow rate: Flow rate is the rate at which the fluid enters the pipe. 
  5. Velocity: Velocity is the speed at which the fluid moves through the pipe. 
  6. Head Loss: Head Loss is the loss of head pressure as the fluid passes through the pipe. 
  7. Efficiency: Efficiency is the ratio of the total volume of fluid transferred to the total volume of fluid entering the pipeline.
  8. Temperature rise: Temperature rise is the increase in temperature of the fluid as it passes through the pipe.
  9. Corrosion: Corrosion is the deterioration of the metal parts of the pipe due to contact with the fluid.
  10. Noise level: Noise level is the sound made by the fluid passing through the pipe.

Before you make the decision to purchase a pipe and riser system, make sure you know what your specific needs are. This will assist you in determining which equipment to buy. We can help you come up with the ideal design for your business if you’re thinking of setting a piped system. In Agru our team of experts design the perfect piping systems and pipe fitting for the agriculture and industrial applications. Contact us for setting up the perfect piping system for your business.

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