A numerical study of flow characteristics in a helical pipe

Lingdi Tang, Yue Tang, Siva Parameswaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Flow characteristics and loss mechanism inside the helical pipe with large-caliber and large-scale Dean number were analyzed in this study. Numerical simulation was carried out for exploring velocity distribution, pressure field, and secondary flow by varying coil parameters such as Dean number, curvature radius, and coil pitch. The velocity gradient in the cross-section increases along the pipe and causes unsteady flow in the pipe. Large pressure differences in the 180° and 315° cross-section generate centrifugal forces on the pipe. The secondary flow is the major factor resulting in flow loss, presented obviously by the streamlines to analyze the effects of pipe parameters on the vortices. The vortex center shifts toward the upper wall with the increase in Dean number and takes a slight deflection with the increase in coil pitch. Meanwhile, a correlation of the flow loss extent inside the pipe as a function of friction factor was presented. The increases in curvature radius and coil pitch can diminish the friction factor to reduce flow losses. The accuracy of the numerical methodology was also validated by conducting corresponding experiments and empirical mathematical analysis. The maximum deviation between the experimental values and the simulated results of the pressure drop is just 2.9%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalAdvances in Mechanical Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Flow characteristics
  • Helical pipe
  • Loss mechanism


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