K factor (crude oil refining)

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The K factor or characterization factor is a systematic way of classifying a crude oil according to is paraffinic, naphthenic, intermediate or aromatic nature. 12.5 or higher indicate a crude oil of predominantly paraffinic constituents, while 10 or lower indicate a crude of more aromatic nature. The K factor is also referred to as the UOP K factor or just UOPK.[1]

In the oil and gas engineering industry as well as many other industries, the K-factor formula is used to calculate head loss across fittings or a set of fittings in a piping system. The formula may be expressed as:[2][3][4]

∆h = K v 2/ 2g

CAUTION: The "K-values" for characterization liquids to be separated by distillation are supposed to facilitate vapor-liquid equilibrium calculations. The "K" values in this equation are for pressure drop calculations in pipe and associated fittings. Please see[5] for K-Factors used in crude oil refining.

where, when using the customary U.S. units:

  • ∆h = head loss in feet of fluid
  • K = the frictional coefficient
  • v = the fluid velocity in ft/s
  • g = acceleration due to gravity = 32.17 ft/s2

where, when using the SI metric units:

  • ∆h = head loss in metres of fluid
  • K = the frictional coefficient
  • v = the fluid velocity in m/s
  • g = acceleration due to gravity = 9.81 m/s2

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James G. Speight (2007). The Chemistry And Technology of Petroleum (4th ed.). CRC Press. p. 40. ISBN 0-8493-9067-2. 
  2. ^ Pressure drop calculations Scroll down to page 3 (of the 5 pdf pages) entitled "Pressure drop in fittings ...".
  3. ^ Pipe Fittings Loss Calculations with K Factors
  4. ^ E.W. McAllister (Editor) (2009). Pipeline Rules of Thumb Handbook (7th ed.). Gulf Professional Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85617-500-5.  (See Equation (2) on page 188)
  5. ^ Vapor-liquid K values

External links[edit]