Hydraulic diameter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The hydraulic diameter, DH, is a commonly used term when handling flow in non-circular tubes and channels. Using this term, one can calculate many things in the same way as for a round tube. It is defined as[1][2]


A is the cross-sectional area of the flow,
P is the wetted perimeter of the cross-section.

The need for the hydraulic diameter arises due to the use of a single dimension in case of dimensionless quantity such as Reynolds number, which prefer a single variable for flow analysis rather than the set of variables as listed in the table. The Manning formula contains a quantity called the hydraulic radius. Despite what the name may suggest, the hydraulic diameter is not twice the hydraulic radius, but four times larger.

Hydraulic diameter is mainly used for calculations involving turbulent flow. Secondary flows can be observed in non-circular ducts as a result of turbulent shear stress in the turbulent flow. Hydraulic diameter is also used in calculation of heat transfer in internal-flow problems.

List of hydraulic diameters[edit]

Geometry Hydraulic diameter Comment
Circular tube For a circular tube the hydraulic diameter is simply the diameter of the tube.
Square duct
Rectangular duct (fully filled). The duct is closed so that the wetted perimeter consists of the 4 sides of the duct. For the limiting case of a very wide duct, i.e. a slot of width b, where ba, then DH = 2a.
Channel of water or partially filled rectangular duct. Open from top by definition so that the wetted perimeter consists of the 3 sides of the duct (2 on the side and the base). For the limiting case of a very wide duct, i.e. a slot of width b, where ba, and a is the water depth, then DH = 4a.

For a fully filled duct or pipe whose cross-section is a regular polygon, the hydraulic diameter is equivalent to the diameter of a circle inscribed within the wetted perimeter.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Kudela, Henryk (May 2017). "Viscous flow in pipe" (PDF). p. 3. 
  2. ^ "Hydraulic Diameter for Non-Circular Ducts" (PDF). May 2017. p. 2. 

See also[edit]