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Darcys formula

Darcy's formula for loss of head in pipe
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Key Facts

Gyroscopic Couple: The rate of change of angular momentum (\tau) = I\omega\Omega (In the limit).
  • I = Moment of Inertia.
  • \omega = Angular velocity
  • \Omega = Angular velocity of precession.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic philosopher.

Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) was a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist.

Henry Philibert Gaspard Darcy (1803-1858) was a French engineer who made several important contributions to hydraulics.


When the water is flowing in a pipe, it experiences some resistance to its motion, whose effect is to reduce the velocity and ultimately the head of water available. An empirical formula for the loss of head due to friction was derived by Henry Darcy.

The loss of head due to friction according to Darcy is,

h_f = \frac{4flv^2}{2gd}

  • h_f = Loss of head due to friction
  • l = Length of pipe
  • d = Diameter of the pipe


Consider a uniform long pipe through which water is flowing at a uniform rate as shown in figure.


  • v = Velocity of water in the pipe
  • f' = Frictional resistance per unit area at unit velocity

Consider sections (1-1) and (2-2) of the pipe Let,
  • p_1 = Intensity of pressure at section (1-1)
  • p_2 = Intensity of pressure at section (2-2)

A little consideration will show that p1 and p2 would have been equal, if there would have been no frictional resistance. Now considering horizontal forces on water between sections (1-1) and (2-2) and equating the same,

p_1A = p_2A + Frictional\;Resistance

\Rightarrow Frictional\;Resistance = p_1A - p_2A

Dividing both sides by w -

\frac{Frictional\;Resistance}{w} = \frac{p_1A - p_2A}{w}

\Rightarrow \frac{Frictional\;Resistance}{Aw} = \frac{p_1}{w} - \frac{p_2}{w}

\frac{p_1}{w} - \frac{p_2}{w} = h_f = Loss\;of\;pressure\;due\;to\;friction

\therefore h_f = \frac{Frictional\;resistance}{Aw}

\Rightarrow h_f = \frac{Frictional\;resistance}{\frac{\pi}{4}\times d^2\times w}

We know that as per Froude's experiment, frictional resistance
h_f = Frictional\;resistance\;per\;unit\;area\;at\;unit\;velocity\times Wetted\;area\times (Velocity)^2

\Rightarrow h_f = f'\times \pi d l\times v^2

Substituting the value of frictional resistance in the above equation,
h_f = \frac{f'\pi dl\times v^2}{\frac{\pi}{4}\times d^2w} = \frac{4f'lv^2}{wd}

Let us introduce another coefficient (f) such that,
f' = \frac{fw}{2g}

We know that the discharge,
Q = \frac{\pi}{4}\times d^2\times v
\Rightarrow v = \frac{4Q}{\pi d^2}
\therefore v^2 = \frac{16Q^2}{\pi^2 d^4}

Substituting the value of v^2 in equation (2)

Example - Determination of the loss of head
Find the loss of head due to friction in a pipe of 500mm diameter and 1.5km long. The velocity of water in the pipe is 1.0 m/s. Take coefficient of friction as 0.005.
  • d = 500 mm = 0.5 m
  • l = 1.5 km = 1500 m
  • v = 1 m/s
  • f = 0.005

Since length of the pipe (1500 m) is more than 1000 d (1000*0.5 = 500m), therefore it is a long pipe. Now let us neglect all the minor losses except friction. We know that the loss of head due to friction,

h_f = \frac{4flv^2}{2gd}

\Rightarrow h_f = \frac{4\times 0.005\times 1500\times (1)^2}{2\times 9.81\times 0.5}

\therefore h_f = 3.01\;m
Loss of head due to friction = 3.01 m