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What is Classification of Head Loss – Definition

Classification of Head Loss.The head loss of piping system is divided into two main categories, major losses and minod head losses. Thermal Engineering

Classification of Head Loss

The head loss of a pipe, tube or duct system, is the same as that produced in a straight pipe or duct whose length is equal to the pipes of the original systems plus the sum of the equivalent lengths of all the components in the system.

As can be seen, the head loss of piping system is divided into two main categories, “major losses” associated with energy loss per length of pipe, and “minor losses” associated with bends, fittings, valves, etc.

  • Major Head Loss – due to friction in pipes and ducts.
  • Minor Head Loss – due to components as valves, fittings, bends and tees.

The head loss can be then expressed as:

hloss = Σ hmajor_losses + Σ hminor_losses


  • Head loss or pressure loss are the reduction in the total head (sum of potential head, velocity head, and pressure head) of a fluid caused by the friction present in the fluid’s motion.
  • Head loss and pressure loss represent the same phenomenon – frictional losses in pipe and losses in hydraulic components, but they are expressed in different units.
  • Head loss of hydraulic system is divided into two main categories:
    • Major Head Loss – due to friction in straight pipes
    • Minor Head Loss – due to components as valves, bends…
  • Darcy’s equation can be used to calculate major losses.
  • A special form of Darcy’s equation can be used to calculate minor losses.
  • The friction factor for fluid flow can be determined using a Moody chart.

Why the head loss is very important?

As can be seen from the picture, the head loss is forms key characteristic of any hydraulic system. In systems, in which some certain flowrate must be maintained (e.g. to provide sufficient cooling or heat transfer from a reactor core), the equilibrium of the head loss and the head added by a pump determines the flowrate through the system.

Q-H characteristic diagram of centrifugal pump and of pipeline
Q-H characteristic diagram of centrifugal pump and of pipeline
Hydraulic Head - Hydraulic Grade Line
Hydraulic grade line and Total head lines for a constant diameter pipe with friction. In a real pipe line there are energy losses due to friction – these must be taken into account as they can be very significant.
Reactor Physics and Thermal Hydraulics:
  1. J. R. Lamarsh, Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Theory, 2nd ed., Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA (1983).
  2. J. R. Lamarsh, A. J. Baratta, Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, 3d ed., Prentice-Hall, 2001, ISBN: 0-201-82498-1.
  3. W. M. Stacey, Nuclear Reactor Physics, John Wiley & Sons, 2001, ISBN: 0- 471-39127-1.
  4. Glasstone, Sesonske. Nuclear Reactor Engineering: Reactor Systems Engineering, Springer; 4th edition, 1994, ISBN: 978-0412985317
  5. Todreas Neil E., Kazimi Mujid S. Nuclear Systems Volume I: Thermal Hydraulic Fundamentals, Second Edition. CRC Press; 2 edition, 2012, ISBN: 978-0415802871
  6. Zohuri B., McDaniel P. Thermodynamics in Nuclear Power Plant Systems. Springer; 2015, ISBN: 978-3-319-13419-2
  7. Moran Michal J., Shapiro Howard N. Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics, Fifth Edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2006, ISBN: 978-0-470-03037-0
  8. Kleinstreuer C. Modern Fluid Dynamics. Springer, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4020-8670-0.
  9. U.S. Department of Energy, THERMODYNAMICS, HEAT TRANSFER, AND FLUID FLOW. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 1, 2 and 3. June 1992.
  10. White Frank M., Fluid Mechanics, McGraw-Hill Education, 7th edition, February, 2010, ISBN: 978-0077422417

See also:

Head Loss

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