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A Unified Approach To Piping System Solutions

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.102.1 - 10.102.14



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Paper Authors

author page

B.K. Hodge

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3666

A Unified Approach to Piping System Problems B. K. Hodge Mississippi State University


A unified approach to the solution of series, parallel, and network piping system problems is investigated. Examples of series, parallel, and network piping system solutions using the unified solution methodology are presented and discussed. Solutions for all piping problems are formulated as a single nonlinear algebraic equation or a system of nonlinear algebraic equations and a computational software system (Mathcad in this paper) is used for the arithmetic. This arrangement permits the student to concentrate on problem formulation and results (the engineering aspects of the problems) rather than on the arithmetic. The congruence of the problem formulations for all problems is evident to the student.


Many of the “procedures” for solving engineering problems are techniques to solve a non-linear algebraic equation or a system of non-linear algebraic equations. However, recent computational software systems, such a Mathcad, have made possible “direct” solutions of such non-linear problems in which the solution procedure is transparent to the user. Piping systems are an excellent example of such problems. The purposes of this paper are twofold: (1) to explore the use of computational software systems for piping system problem solutions and (2) to investigate the pedagogical inferences of the use of such software in undergraduate engineering education involving piping system topics.


Most undergraduate courses in fluid mechanics address the flow of viscous fluids in pipes and develop techniques suitable for the solution of simple piping system problems. Piping systems are characterized as series, parallel, or network [1]. Generally, piping systems with components in series are examined first and solutions are classed as Category I (find the increase in head of a pump), Category II (find the flow rate in a system), and Category III (find the appropriate pipe diameter, if it exists, for a given situation). Most first courses in fluid mechanics do not contain detailed coverage of parallel systems or fluid networks. In a first course, or in a follow-on fluid mechanics or thermal systems course, if solution techniques for parallel systems and fluid networks are covered, the solution “procedures” are associated with, but are considered distinct from, series systems. The advent of computational software systems (for example Mathcad, Mathematica, Matlab, and EES) permits a much more unified solution approach to all types of piping system problems. From a pedagogical standpoint, the unified approach permits the student to focus more on the engineering aspects than the arithmetic aspects, and from an

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exhibition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Hodge, B. (2005, June), A Unified Approach To Piping System Solutions Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14258

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