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Feature Report

Engineering Practice

Updating the Rules

For Pipe Sizing Total costs


The most economical velocity in piping costs

continues to shift downwards power
over the last 40 years Optimum

Alejandro Anaya Durand, Francisco Javier Pacheco Román, Pipe diameter, D

Maria Jose de Villafranca Casas, Ricardo Gabriel Suárez Suárez,
FIGURE 1. Fixed costs rise as the pipe
Adriana Shunashi García Cornejo, Juan Sampieri Espinoza, diameter increases. Power costs fall as the
Daniela Jara Carranza, Luis Francisco Villalobos pressure drop falls. The sum of these two
Vazquez de la Parra has a minimum
Faculty of Chemistry, UNAM

ipe sizing calculations include Carbon Stainless Carbon Stainless
Alumi- Brass
certain values that are time Terms Steel Steel Steel Steel
num 2008 2008
dependent, such as costs. While 1998 1998 2008 2008
some costs rise, others decrease n 1.35 0.7793 1.472 0.924 0.769 0.907
over time. However, there will always x 29.52 130 6.607 30.7 22.26 32.3
be a minimum total. For flow of flu- Le’ 2.74 2.74 2.74 2.74 2.74 2.74
ids calculations, heuristic criteria are M 0.102 0.102 0.064 0.064 0.064 0.064
often used, which is the main reason E 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5
why these values must be updated P 150 150 150 150 150 150
from time to time. In this paper rec- K 0.04 0.04 0.07 0.07 0.07 0.07
ommended velocities are updated for Y 365 365 365 365 365 365
several materials of construction, and
& 0.55 0.55 0.55 0.55 0.55 0.55
other velocities for new materials are
Z 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
calculated, using the Generaux Equa-
F 6.7 7.5 6.5 7.4 7.1 7.2
tion [1].
a+b 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
Background a’ + b’ 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
Process design is one of the most im-
portant tasks for engineering. In the An example of this phenomena is costs of 1998 derived by the Marshall
development, optimal use of resources the determination of the recommended and Swift Index [2]. Similarly recom-
must be accomplished in order to velocity for a fluid in pipe sizing. The mended velocities are updated in this
reach equilibrium between minimum velocity is intrinsically related to fluid paper with costs for the current year.
cost and maximum efficiency. properties and a host of economic pa- We compare 1998 values with the ac-
Engineers tend to use heuristic for- rameters, including energy and pipe tual calculated ones (2008) and calcu-
mulas to make quick estimates. Such material costs (It’s important to re- late new values for other pipe materi-
calculated estimations are accurate member that pipe diameter is directly als such as brass and aluminum.
enough for grasping a quick overview proportional to its cost).
of the desired process. Since 1968 prices have changed Defining optimum
Some of these calculations involve due to inflation. In 1998 it was dem- For pipe design, several criteria have
certain factors that changing over the onstrated that the most economical to be taken into account. Common cri-
years. Nevertheless, the values fre- velocity in piping had shifted down- teria used are recommended velocity,
quently used as inputs in these equa- wards over the preceding 30 years [6]. economical criteria and other opera-
tions are over thirty years old, driving In that paper, recommended velocities tive criterion.
estimations even further away from were recalculated using the Gener- However, an economical criterion
reality [6]. aux equation [1] with parameters and is the decisive factor for determin-
Recommended Fluid Velocities, 1998 to 2008 Costs

Recommended velocity, ft/s

Carbon 1998
15.00 Carbon 2008
10.00 Stainless
steel 2008
5.00 Stainless Examples of these are rent, taxes and
steel 1998
0.00 depreciation. Operational costs on
0 20 40 60 80 100 the other hand are the variable costs,
Density, lb/ft3 which typically include raw material,
FIGURE 2. Comparison between the recommended fluid velocities from 1998 & 2008 man power and energy services, and
fixed operational costs.
Recommended Velocities for Liquids, 2008 Costs A practical way to find the optimal
11.00 cost is to plot capital and operational

velocity, ft/s

9.00 steel costs (with the same scale) and then

Aluminium adding these values to form a new
5.00 Brass function that will have a minimal
Carbon value (the optimal value) as shown in
3.00 Figure 1.
20 40 60 80 100
Several other methods can be used
Density, lb/ft3 @ µ = 1 cp; D = 1 ft
to obtain the minimum value in a
more exact way. Although more rigor-
Recommended Velocities for Gases with viscosity close to 0,02 Cp, 2008 Costs
ous procedures are slower to perform,

Stainless they are used to optimize plant costs.

velocity, ft/s

43 Aluminium
Optimum equation
23 Brass Although there are several rules for
Carbon calculating the optimum pipe diame-
3 steel
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 ter, this paper only considers the Gen-
Density, lb/ft3 @ µ = 0.2 cp; D = 1 ft eraux equation [1], shown in the box
on p. TK. This equation determines
FIGURE 3. Recommended velocities for gases (a) and liquids (b) according to 1998 the fluid velovcities required to obtain
and 2008 prices. Recommended velocities tend to fall down as years pass by
the most economic pipe diameter.
Recommended Fluid Velocities at different Diameters for Carbon steel, 2008 Costs Ten years ago this equation was
8 used to obtain updated recommended
7 D = 6 in velocities because the 1968 values
were still used in that time [6]. For

6 D = 8 in
velocity, ft/s

D = 10 in this purpose an analysis was made to

D = 12 in demonstrate how recommended veloc-
D = 4 in ities were changing over the years.
3 D = 2 in
2 Updated recommended velocities
1 Price changes have a great impact on
0 the parameters used in the Generaux
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 equation. Table 1 shows the influence
Density, lb/ft3 of the change in energy and material
Recommended Fluid Velocities at different Viscosities, 2008 Costs costs as measured by the Marshall
8.00 and Swift Index [3]. Some of the val-
7.50 ues of these parameters were derived
7.00 Viscosity

in order to obtain updated ones that

velocity, ft/s

6.50 = 0.2 cp˝

6.00 Viscosity could be more in line with the 2008
5.50 = 0.5 cp˝
5.00 costs.
4.50 Viscosity Figure 2 shows a comparison of the
4.00 = 1 cp
3.50 velocities calculated. Updated fluid ve-
3.00 = 2 cp locities of carbon steel pipe are about
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 48% lower than the 1998 recommen-
Density, lb/ft3 dations; the same goes to stainless
FIGURE 4. Plots of recommended velocities versus different viscosities and diam- steel pipe with a 45% decrease.
eters Viscosity has no significant influence in recommended velocity as diameter
does At higher diameter, economic velocities are also higher.
Cost evolution
ing a pipeline design. The analysis is as well minimal. In the midst of comparison between en-
meant to find the negligible total cost, Total costs are the sum of energy ergy and capital costs, energy cost has
which is the sum of capital and op- and capital costs. Fixed costs are prac- proved to have a greater impact. This
erational costs. By determining this tically independent of time, produc- cost can be defined by the variable K,
minimum a number of variables are tion amount and production volume. which surprisingly has increased by a
Carbon Steel 2008
Density, lb/ft3 100 62.4 50 1 0.1 0.075 0.01
Engineering Practice Viscosity, cP 1 1 1 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02
Recommended velocity, ft/s 3.57 4.11 4.38 17.38 34.34 37.39 67.85
Stainless Steel 2008
factor of 1.75 since 1998. While energy Density, lb/ft3 100 62.4 50 1 0.1 0.075 0.01
costs increase in an inversely propor- Viscosity, cP 1 1 1 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02
tional way, recommended velocities Recommended velocity, ft/s 5.42 6.23 6.65 26.37 52.10 56.73 102.95
tend to shift down over time despite of
Aluminum 2008
involving a higher initial investment
Density, lb/ft3 100 62.4 50 1 0.1 0.075 0.01
in piping design (material costs).
Viscosity, cP 1 1 1 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02
Sample calculation No. 1 Recommended velocity, ft/s 4.48 5.15 5.50 21.79 43.06 46.88 85.08
Let us use a pipeline for the following Brass 2008
conditions. Density, lb/ft3 100 62.4 50 1 0.1 0.075 0.01
t1JQFTUBJOMFTTTUFFM Viscosity, cP 1 1 1 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02
t'MPXQ = 250 gal/min = 0.557 ft3/s Recommended velocity, ft/s 5.43 6.25 6.67 26.44 52.25 56.89 103.24
t%FOTJUZR = 62.4 lb/ft3
Using the set of fluid velocities for GENERAUX EQUATION
1998 shown in Figure 3a; the recom-
mended velocity is V = 11.32 ft/s. The
cross sectional area of the pipe, S, is
calculated as
S = Q/V = 0.557/11.32 = 0.0492 ft2
This cross-section is reasonably close Nomenclature
to that of a 3-in dia., stainless-steel a Fractional annual depreciation on M Factor to
pipeline, dimensionless express cost of
Schedule 40 pipe.
b Fractional annual maintenance on piping installation, in terms of yearly
However, using the set of fluid veloc- cost of power delivered to the fluid,
pipeline, dimensionless
ities for 2008 shown in Figure 3b; the dimensionless
a’ Fractional annual depreciation on
recommended velocity value is signifi- pumping installation, dimensionless n Exponent in pipe–cost equation
cantly lower V = 6.23 ft/s , calculating b’ Fractional annual maintenance on (C = XD n ) , dimensionless
the cross-sectional area of the pipe S installation, dimensionless P Installation cost of pump and motor,
= Q/V = 0.0894 ft2. This cross-section C Installed cost of pipeline, including $/h.p.
is closer to a 4-in. dia. stainless-steel fittings, $/ft Q Fluid flow, ft3/s
Schedule 40 pipe. A larger pipe diame- D Inside pipe diameter, ft S Cross sectional area, ft2
ter is justified with the updated lower E Combined fractional efficiency of€ V Velocity, ft/s
recommended velocities. pump and motor, dimensionless X Cost of 1 ft of 1-ft-dia. pipe, $
F Factor for installation and fitting, Y Days of operation per year (at 24
Sample calculation No. 2 dimensionless h/d)
For this case let us use a pipeline for K Energy cost delivered to the motor, Z Fractional rate of return of incre-
the following conditions. $/kWh mental investment, dimensionless
t1JQFDBSCPOTUFFM Le’ Factor for friction in fitting, equivalent Φ Factor for taxes and other expenses,
t'MPXQ = 250 gal/min = 0.557 ft3/s length in pipe diameter per length of dimensionless
t-JRVJEXBUFSBU¡' pipe, 1/ft ρ Flow density, lb/ft3
t%FOTJUZR = 62.4 lb/ft3 μ Fluid viscosity, cP
Once again using the graph of fluid €
velocities for 1998 (Figure 3a), the rec- with the updated lower recom- decreased between 40 and 50% since
ommended velocity is V = 8 ft/s. The mended fluid velocities. 1998 being greater the decrease for
cross-sectional area of the pipe is S = € cheaper materials.
Q/V = 0.1358 ft2. This cross-section Conclusions €
is reasonably close to that of a 3.5-in. Revised values for the recommended References
dia., carbon-steel Schedule 40 pipe. fluid velocities on this paper have 1. Perry R. H. and Chilton. C.H. “Chemical
Engineer´s Handbook,” 5th Edition. pp 5–30
However, using the set of fluid proved to be highly sensitive to energy McGraw-Hill, New York, 1973.
velocities for 2008 shown in Fig- and material costs. However between 2. Marshall and Swift Equipment Cost Index.
ure 3b, the recommended velocity both factors, energy cost has more sig- In Chem. Eng. p. 230, September 2008, and
similarly in all issues back to 1998.
value is lower, V = 4.1 ft/s, and the nificance in the total cost than mate- 64%FQUPG&OFSHZ 8BTIJOHUPO %$
cross sectionas area of the pipe is S rial cost. It is of great importance to 4. Crane Corp., “Flow of Fluids,” Chicago, 1963.
= Q/V = 0.1358 ft2. This cross-sec- remember that these costs vary de-  "OBZB %VSBOE "  FU BM  6QEBUFE 3VMFT PG
tion is closer to a 5-in. dia., carbon- pending on the inflationary surge at Thumb for Pipe Sizing, Presented at October
1998 meeting of IMIQ. Oaxaca, México.
steel Schedule 40 pipe. As found in the current time, and so do the eco- "OBZB%VSBOE" BOEPUIFST 6QEBUFE3VMFT
the first example calculation above, nomic fluid velocities. In general terms for Pipe Sizing, Chem. Eng. May 1999, pp.
a larger pipe diameter is justified recommended velocities in fluids have
Alejandro Anaya Durand Adriana Shunashi García Ricardo Gabriel Suárez
(Parque España No. 15b Col. Cornejo (1era Cda Ezequiel Suárez (Industria 6, Col.
Condesa, C.P. 06140, Mexico, Ordoñez No. 14 Col. Copilco Florida c.p.01030, Alvaro
%' 1IPOF &NBJM BBOBZB- El Alto, C.P. 06340, Coyoacán, 0CSFHØO  .ÏYJDP  %' is a .ÏYJDP  %'  .ÏYJDP 1IPOF .ÏYJDP 1IPOF    
professor of chemical engineer       &NBJM &NBJMHBCPTVBSF[!
at the National University of is is a fifth-semester
Mexico (UNAM), and has over a fifth-semester chemical chemical engineering honor
48 years experience in project engineering honor student student at UNAM, he is vice
and process engineering. He at UNAM, she is an active president of the UNAM stu-
retired from Instituto Mexi- member of IMIQ. dent section of IMIQ.
cano del Petroleo in 1998 after
holding top positions. For 43 years he has been
an educator in chemical engineering in several Daniela Jara Carranza ( Juan Sampieri Espinoza
universities in Mexico, and presently he is also Escultores No. 42 Col. Cd (Avenida Universidad 2014,
consultant at several engineering companies. He Satélite, C.P 01021, Nau- Col. Copilco, c.p. 04350,
has published over 250 papers related to engi- calpan de Juarez , Estado $PZPBDÈO  .ÏYJDP  %' 
neering and education; is a Fellow of the AIChE; EF .ÏYJDP  .ÏYJDP 1IPOF .ÏYJDP 1IPOF    
a member of National Academy of Engineering;       &NBJM  &NBJM HJPWTF@!IPU-
and has received the main chemical engineering is a fifth-semester
awards Mexico. He holds a M.S. in project engi- is a fifth-semester chemical chemical engineering honor
neering from UNAM. engineering honor student student at UNAM, he is an
at UNAM, she is an active active member of IMIQ.
member of IMIQ.
Maria Jose de Villafranca
Casas (2da Cda de Tantoco #4 Luis Francisco Villalo-
Frac. La Presilla Col. M. Con- Francisco Javier Pacheco bos Vazquez de la Parra
USFSBT .ÏYJDP %'1IPOF Román (Avenida Universi- (Rincon de los Arcos 95,
&NBJMNKEFW- dad 2014, Col. Copilco, c.p. Col. Bosque Residencial del 04350, Coyoacán, México, Sur, c.p. 16010,Xochimilco,
is a fifth-semester chemical %'  .ÏYJDP 1IPOF  .FYJDP  %' .FYJDP  1IPOF
engineering honor student at      &NBJM &NBJMMV-
UNAM; she is an active mem- is a isfranciscovillalobos@gmail.
ber of IMIQ and works as an fifth-semester chemical en- com) is a fifth-semester
intern at CMM (Mario Molina gineering honor student at chemical engineering honor
Center for Strategic Studies UNAM, he is an active mem- student at UNAM. He is an
in Energy and the Environment) ber of IMIQ. active member of IMIQ.

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