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CHBE 401

Project Paper

Table of Contents

1. Introduction..................................................................................................................................3

2. Understanding Drag Reduction...................................................................................................3

Reynold Number........................................................................................................................3

Fanning Factor..........................................................................................................................3

Wall Shear Stress.......................................................................................................................3

Slope Increment.........................................................................................................................5

Maximum Drag Reduction.........................................................................................................6

1

3. Elastic Sublayer............................................................................................................................8

4. Commercial Use............................................................................................................................9

5. Solution to modern day problem...............................................................................................10

6. References...................................................................................................................................11

Introduction:

B.A Toms discovered the polymeric turbulent flow drag reduction phenomenon in 1948,

upon finding that dilute polymethyl methacrylate solutions have the ability of reducing the

Fanning friction factor of turbulent flow to about the half compared to the pure solvent flow. The

experimental follow-ups of this discovery have shown that adding small concentrations of high-

molecular polymers can reduce the turbulent pipe flow’s drag by 80% (Virk 1975). up to this

date, it is still unclear to us how exactly those additives reduce drag. However, According to

Virk et al (1997), the extension of the macromolecules seem more than likely to be what causing

this phenomenon to occur.

2

To grasp the concept behind DR phenomenon, once must understand some important

related parameters. One parameter is the Reynold Number (Re) which is used to measure the

flow intensity. Re is dimensionless and is defined as below

(I)

V × ID

Re =

ν

Where V is the mean velocity, ID the pipe inner diameter, and ν is the fluid kinematic viscosity.

Another parameter is the Fanning friction factor, f, which is related to the wall shear stress and is

defined as below

2τ w

f =

ρV 2 (II)

Where ρ is fluid density and τw is wall shear stress, which is defined as

(III)

∆P × ID

τw =

4∆L

At laminar flow, (Re<2000), there is no difference in skin friction between dilute polymer

solutions and solvents. The solution follows poiseuille’s law for Newtonian fluids

(IV)

1 Re ⋅ f

=

f 16

Virk (1975) describes three distinct regimes for fully developed turbulent flows in order

of increasing flow rate.

The first regime, called Newtonian regime, experiences no drag reduction, and its flow

follows Prandtl-Karman (P-K) law for Newtonian fluids in turbulent flow

1

= 4.0log10 Re f − 0.4

f (V)

3

The second regime, called the Polymeric regime, depending on the nature of the

polymer solution, it begins at a specific onset and is insensitive to concentration of polymer and

ID (Virk 1975). Relation between friction factor decreases beginning at onset as the flow starts

disobeying the P-K law as shown in (Figure 1)

1

= (4.0 + δ )log10 Re f − 0.4 − δ log10 2DW ∗

f (VI)

Fig. 1

(τ *w / ρ )1/ 2

W =*

ν (VII)

dilute polymer solution and solvent slopes. δ is directly proportional to concentration and

molecular weight of the polymer and is independent of ID. δ is defined as below

(VIII)

κ MW C 1/ 2

δ=

Mw0

4

Where Mw0 is the molecular weight of an additive monomer.

Fanning friction factor decreases as flow rate increases in the polymeric regime and the

higher the δ the more drag reduction we get. From (equation VIII) we can see that δ varies as the

square root of concentration. According to (Virk 1975), the onset of drag reduction occurs at a

unique τw, (τw*). The higher the τw* the higher Re f the onset will exhibit. This Polymeric regime

will hold true until the flow reaches a point where drag reduction changes its slope and that takes

us to the third regime, called Maximum drag reduction regime or simply, MDR. all solutions

reach a point where the slope alters to fit Virk’s asymptote governed by the equation below

1

= 19.0log10 Re f − 32.4

f (IX)

The reason behind limited drag reduction will be explained later on page 6.

(Figure 2) is an illustration of flow of polymers of different Mw and C through different

ID. In this case, polyethyleneoxide (PEO) and polyacrylamide (PAM) solutions plotted on P-K

coordinates.

We can see from the plot that laminar flow follows Poiseuille’s law mentioned in (equation IV).

Also, (equation V) represents the Prandtl-Karman law for turbulent Newtonian flow and

(equation IX) representing Virk’s asymptote for MDR. Moreover, the straight lines follow the

Polymeric regime (equation VI) and it is noticed that MDR is a universal value independent of

ID, type of polymer, concentration, or molecular weight.

5

Fig. 2

It is shown that

drag reduction is

bounded between two

asymptotes,

the Prandtl-

Karman law and the Maximum drag reduction Asymptotes, and based on Polymer molecular

weight and concentration, DR varies accordingly.

Elastic Sublayer:

The mean velocity profile possesses three distinct zones. The Viscous

sublayer zone occupies the area near the wall. And the Newtonian plug

region, at the axis where velocity profile is shifted upwards from Newtonian

law of the wall but remains parallel to it. In between these two regions there

6

is a region called, Elastic sublayer which is the main characteristic of drag

reduction.

(Figure 3) is a plot of the normalized mean velocity, U+, versus the

natural logarithm of distance from inside wall, y+. the ABCD profile has the

three different regions: (1) viscous sublayer AB where y+ ≤ yv+. B holds the

value of yv+ = 11.6 based on our previous arguments about the onset of drag

reduction. (2) elastic sublayer BC, where ye+ ≤ y+ ≤ R+ , which originates

at onset and grows depending on concentration with increasing drag

reduction starting at zero drag reduction at ( y+ = ye+ ). It is of a varying

thickness perhaps that is why it is called “elastic”. The elastic sublayer

continues to grow until it claims the entire cross section of the pipe at MDR.

And since it cannot over expand, maximum drag reduction takes place. (3)

the Newtonian plug region where y+ ≤ R+.

effective slip, S+, by the following equation

Where Am and An are coefficients of maximum drag reduction and

Newtonian plug region respectively.

7

Fig. 3

Commercial Use:

Drag reducing agents were first introduced commercially in 1979 upon adding (DRA) to

the flow of crude oil in the Trans Alaskan Pipeline (Motier et al., 1996).

Trans Alaskan Pipeline System (TAPS) was designed with 12 pump stations along 1287

Km to transport 2 million barrels per day (MBPD) of Alaskan crude oil. However, with the use

of DRA’s, TAP was able to pump 2.1 MBPD of crude oil using only 10 pump stations. The two

remaining pump stations were never built. The TAPS used a DRA of 28 wppm polymer

concentration. Nowadays, globally, crude oil pipelines use DRA mechanics to enhance the flow.

According to Cuenca et al. (2008) the energy reduction estimate upon using 20 wppm polyolefin

gel in a 307 mm ID and 84 Km pipe line in the Tarragona-Barcelona-Gerona pipeline is 42.6%.

Also, better ways of using drag reduction in marine environments and blood flow are sought.

8

The exponential increase in India’s population has led to find that the

sewer systems are inadequate to their large numbers. So, DRA’s could be

used to enhance the flow as an alternative to digging out the sewer system

and replacing it with pipes of larger diameter. Unlike the latter solution,

using DRA’s is fast and cost effective. Plus, instead of replacing the pipes

with larger ones every time the population becomes too big for the municipal

sewer system, DRA’s with higher concentrations can be added until we reach

a point where even maximum drag reduction does not accommodate the

insanely expanding population. But then, I think, inadequate sewer systems

will be the least of our problems. Brostow et al. (2007)

References:

Brostow, Witold, Haley E. Hagg Lobland, Taruna Reddy, Ram P. Singh, and

Leslie White.

9

22.1 (2007): 56-60. Materials Research Society. J. Mater. Res., 3 Aug.

Gomez Cuenca, F., Gomez Marin, M., and Folgueras Diaz, M. B. Energy-Savings Modeling of

Oil Pipelines That Use Drag-Reducing Additives. Energy Fuels. 2008, 22 (5), 3293-3298.

Motier, J. F.; Chou, L-C.; Kommareddi, N. Commercial drag reduction: past, present and future.

CA, ASME Fluids Eng. Div. Conf. Proc. 1996, 237 (2) 229-234.

Virk, P. S. Drag Reduction Fundamentals. AIChE J. 1975, 21 (4), 625-656 and references

therein.

Virk, P. S.; Sherman, D. C.; Wagger, D. L. Additive Equivalence During Turbulent Drag

10

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