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Optimal Design of a Pump and Piping System

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

ELOS Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1126.1 - 22.1126.15



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Paper Authors


Curtis Brackett Bradley University

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I am a senior mechanical engineering major at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. I am originally from Aurora, IL. I am the team captain for Bradley's Formula SAE senior project. I am very interested and plan on developing my career in the field of energy generation.

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David Zietlow Bradley University

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Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Bradley University

The primary author is Curtis Brackett, candidate for B.S.M.E. May 2011.

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Optimal Design of a Pump and Piping SystemAbstractThe primary objective of this design project is to provide an opportunity for students to integrateengineering measurements and modeling techniques to accurately predict a priori the appropriatepump size, pipe diameters, and wall thicknesses of a pump pipe system given a specific set ofparameters in order to minimize the total cost of the system. A secondary objective of this designproject is to provide students with an opportunity to improve leadership and technical skillswhile grouped into small teams. The teams are challenged to predict orifice diameters and pumpsize used to represent two branches of a piping system. The experimental apparatus is a pre-developed system that includes three different size pumps and the two branches of pipes witheach branch having its own flange to accept different size orifices. Students are to determine theorifice plate sizes through a analytical model that also shows the most cost effective piping andpump for the system. The students also use Design of Experiments techniques to test andmeasure the specified flow rates and pressure drops of the system for different combinations ofpumps. To add to the realism of this design experience, the students are given imitation moneythat is used to buy materials (orifice plates) and services (system test time, professor guidance,engineering time). The final grades are based on the analytical model, results from the Design ofExperiments, cost of the project, and the performance of the final pump and pipe system whencompared with the analytical model. This design project provides students with a real lifeexample of the design process and shows the importance of employing the engineering designprocess to the development of a functioning prototype system. One student team’s analyticalmodel produced a total cost of $1435 ±$9, which includes the pump cost, present worth ofoperating costs, and pipe costs. The optimum sizes of pipe for the specified flow rates of 2.67USGPM and 1.33 USGPM through the two branches of the apparatus were inner diameters of5/8 inch and 7/16 inch, respectively. In order to demonstrate this correct pipe size, the studentscreated their two orifice plates with 0.14803 and 0.20945 inch holes. When placed in theapparatus, the students used their chosen pump to measure the flow rate across the two orificeplates. The team had flow rate of 2.37 and 1.62 USGPM, a 13% and 18% error respectively.Students noted that this could have been due manufacturing tolerances for the orifice plate. Anuncertainty analysis shows that a 0.76% change in orifice diameter would result in a 1.5%change in flow rate. This type of design project exposes students to the key elements of thedesign process within a semester long laboratory course.

Brackett, C., & Zietlow, D. (2011, June), Optimal Design of a Pump and Piping System Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18690

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