Darcy Friction Factor for Turbulent Flow
If the Reynolds number is greater than 3500, the flow is turbulent. Most fluid systems in nuclear facilities operate with turbulent flow. In this flow regime, the resistance to flow follows the Darcy–Weisbach equation: it is proportional to the square of the mean flow velocity. The Darcy friction factor depends strongly on the relative roughness of the pipe’s inner surface.
The most common method to determine a friction factor for turbulent flow is to use the Moody diagram. The Moody diagram (also known as the Moody chart) is a log-log plot of the Colebrook correlation that relates the Darcy friction factor, Reynolds number, and the relative roughness for fully developed flow in a circular pipe. The Colebrook–White equation:
- Re > 4000
- ‘high’ velocity
- The flow is characterized by the irregular movement of particles of the fluid.
- Average motion is in the direction of the flow.
- The flow velocity profile for turbulent flow is fairly flat across the center section of a pipe and drops rapidly extremely close to the walls.
- The average flow velocity is approximately equal to the velocity at the center of the pipe.
- Mathematical analysis is very difficult.
- The most common type of flow.
In 1939, Colebrook found an implicit correlation for the friction factor in round pipes by fitting the data of experimental studies of turbulent flow in smooth and rough pipes.
For hydraulically smooth pipe and the turbulent flow (Re < 105), the friction factor can be approximated by the Blasius formula:
f = (100.Re)-¼
It must be noted that the friction factor is independent of the Reynolds number at very large Reynolds numbers. This is because the thickness of the laminar sublayer (viscous sublayer) decreases with increasing Reynolds number. For very large Reynolds numbers, the thickness of the laminar sublayer is comparable to the surface roughness, and it directly influences the flow. The laminar sublayer becomes so thin that the surface roughness protrudes into the flow. The frictional losses, in this case, are produced in the main flow primarily by the protruding roughness elements, and the contribution of the laminar sublayer is negligible.