Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Steven L. Barfuss


Steven L. Barfuss


Zachary B. Sharp


Austin Ball


As water moves through pipes, it loses energy. The energy losses are due to friction and the minor losses associated with various pipe fittings, which change the direction of flow. Pipe bends, or elbows, are a common pipe fitting and a significant source of energy loss in piping systems. This research was performed to better understand the variability of energy loss due to different pipe elbow designs and to investigate methods to replicate these losses using numerical simulations.

Eight pipe elbows, all 3-inch, 90-degree, schedule 40 PVC elbows that vary by radius of curvature and/or end connection type, were tested to determine the energy loss caused by each. The energy losses between the elbows with the same radius of curvature varied by up to 51% at a given flow rate. Reversing the flow direction through the elbows changed the energy loss by up to 14% for a given elbow.

A numerical model was created to simulate flow through two of the eight elbows. To determine the importance of modeling small geometric details, two geometries were produced for each elbow: an ideal geometry and the actual geometry. The ideal geometry was created using measured dimensions but included no geometric abnormalities. A 3D scanner captured the actual geometry, which included finer details of each elbow.

The simulations using the more accurate geometry did not consistently produce a more accurate energy loss compared to the ideal geometry simulations. This suggests the smaller details of the elbows captured using 3D scanning may not be significant when modelling energy losses in pipe fittings.