IIAR Takes on Optimum Pipe Sizing Research Project

A new research project, re­cently implemented by the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration, will revisit the economic sizing methodology the industry uses to determine optimum pipe sizing.

The project, expected to be com­pleted in the next year, will provide a computer tool that will allow end users to determine optimum pipe sizing based on input data that includes the initial cost of a piping system, energy cost, life expectancy and refrigeration system oper­ating efficiency.

The concept of eco­nomic pipe sizing was introduced to the ammo­nia refrigeration industry in 1984 by Bill Richards, one of the founding members of IIAR. Rich­ards initially established the capital cost of piping by looking at diameter and length, and provided corrective factors for pip­ing systems with varied costs relative to a baseline value, while also making adjustments for energy costs and hours of usage.

“This project is in­tended as an update of Richards’ methods,” said Bruce Nelson, IIAR Research Com­mittee Chair and President of Colmac Coil Manufacturing, Inc. “It is a bal­ancing of the initial cost for a facility with the operating costs.”

For example, a facility could use a small pipe that is cheap to install but has a high pressure drop, so operating costs are higher, or they might go to a large pipe with low pressure drops that is more expensive to install but has lower operating costs.

“This computer tool will help facili­ties make the decision on how much to spend initially and what the return will be on that investment,” said Nelson.