Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.1108.1 - 9.1108.13
Solution of complex pipe flow problems using spreadsheets in an introductory fluid mechanics course
Mark Schumack Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Detroit Mercy
Students of classical fluid mechanics have routinely been taught how to use the Moody chart to solve pipe flow problems. Its use, however, is tedious for even relatively simple flow problems where velocity or diameter is the unknown because an iterative solution is required. Students can avoid repeated references to the Moody chart by using the equation solving functions in their scientific calculators to solve the Colebrook formula for the friction factor, f. Even with this tool, however, piping systems with parallel flow paths can still require a large amount of manual iteration to obtain a solution.
Bornt1 describes how spreadsheets can be used to calculate pressure drops for steam using an explicit formula for f as a function of Reynolds number and relative roughness. The steam specific volume is a function of pressure, necessitating an iterative solution process that Bornt handles manually. Lester2 shows how to use the “Goal Seek” function in Excel to solve the Colebrook formula for f. The Colebrook formula requires an iterative solution for f, a task performed automatically by “Goal Seek.” While the previous two papers deal with relatively simple single-pipe flows, Streeter and Wylie3 describe several computer algorithms and codes for the solution of more complicated pipe network problems. Asking students to write programs for such problems is normally beyond the scope of an introductory fluid mechanics course. Indeed, many practicing engineers, when faced with complex flow problems, will resort to commercially- available software packages. This paper describes an alternative way that uses the nonlinear equation solving capabilities of Excel to solve complex pipe flow problems in a relatively straightforward fashion. Besides giving students a tool for their future engineering practice, this technique opens up the possibility of providing the undergraduate fluids class with an opportunity to solve a real-world piping system design problem.
The paper describes the method, presents the application to several analysis and design problems, and discusses student response.
II. Using Excel Solver for Pipe Flow Problems
Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education
Schumack, M. (2004, June), Solution Of Complex Pipe Flow Problems Using Spreadsheets In An Introductory Fluid Mechanics Course Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13858
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015