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Flowing Fine: Moving Fluids on an Industrial Scale


Helen S. Joyner
School of Food Science
University of Idaho


In this case study, students assume the role of a process engineer for a pilot plant. Students are tasked with selecting a piping arrangement from a list of available options, creating a diagram of the flow system, determining the terms needed in the general energy balance for their system, calculating the amount of energy lost in the system, and determining how much power is needed by the pump for the system. Students are also asked to discuss various aspects of system design and provide suggestions for reducing energy losses. The ability to properly size a pump for a process is an important skill, as improperly sized pumps are at best inefficient; they can also wear faster due to overloading or cavitation, and may also cause product foaming due to cavitation. Properly sized pumps, on the other hand, provide the necessary work to transport fluids efficiently. Originally developed for an upper-level undergraduate food engineering course, this case is also appropriate for food processing, and introductory fluid flow courses.

  • Create a diagram for a liquid transport system from a given description.
  • Determine the appropriate energy balance and what terms should be included in the energy balance for a liquid transport system.
  • Calculate the energy loss for a liquid transport system.
  • Calculate the theoretical and brake (actual) power needed by a pump.
  • Analyze a fluid flow energy balance to determine how to improve the efficiency of the system.
  • Explain how to size a pump given pump curves and relevant flowrate and pump head information.
Keywords: Fluid flow; flow rate; flowrate; pump; pump sizing; liquid transport system; energy balance; brake power; food processing
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate upper division, Continuing education
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Discussion
Language: English
Subject Headings: Chemical Engineering   Engineering (General)   Food Science / Technology  
Date Posted: 11/28/2015
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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