Flow Conditioning for Improved Piping Arrangement
Navy SBIR NX191 - Topic NX19-003
Special Out of Cycle BAA
Opens: April 12, 2019 - Closes: May 13, 2019 (2:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Flow Conditioning for Improved Piping Arrangement


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground/Sea Vehicles

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Columbia Class Submarine

OBJECTIVE: In order to minimize straight pipe length requirements, a technology is sought that can expedite the establishment of a fully-developed flow profile after non-straight pipe sections such as elbows and bends. The solution should readily integrate with existing piping and should produce minimal pressure drop. Furthermore, it is required that the solution does not induce cavitation and does not produce excessive vibrations.

DESCRIPTION: Pumps and flow meters require a consistent, developed flow profile to function properly. Typically, a developed flow profile is achieved after direction changes, or flow disturbances, through a minimum required length of straight pipe. This length requirement negatively impacts packaging as ship arrangement space is extremely valuable. Additionally, minimum straight length requirements can drive the suction inlet of pumps high in the ship to the detriment of net positive suction head. Thus, minimizing straight pipe requirements can have a significant impact on the final product (e.g. ship design and layout of spaces within the ship, manufacturing requirements, and maintenance times). The goal is to minimize straight pipe length requirements without significant drops in flow pressure, or affecting suction inlet positive pressure in pumps located higher in the ship.

PHASE I: Proposers must provide test results from laboratory experiments, simulations using initial prototype designs, or other relevant documentation to demonstrate that the proposed technical solution is feasible of improving flow downstream of pipe directional changes. Straight pipe lengths to achieve uniform, swirl free flow profile shall be decreased by approximately 50% from the baseline non-conditioned flow profile, accomplishing the objective stated above, and will be able to meet the performance parameters set forth in the description.

By submitting Phase I proof of feasibility documentation, the small business asserts that none of the funding for the cited technology was reimbursed under any federal government agency’s SBIR/STTR program. Demonstrating proof of feasibility is a requirement for a Direct to Phase II award.

PHASE II: Round I. Build of the prototype apparatus for full flow-profile after non-straight pipe sections. The prototype must be able to readily integrate into existing piping systems and be capable of demonstrating that it meets the above requirements. As stated in the solicitation, the period of performance for Round I shall not exceed 6 months and the total fixed price shall not exceed $250,000.

Round II. Prototype Demonstration of Viability: The initial prototype will be tested in a laboratory or shop room that simulates operational conditions. The Government will observe the prototype tests and provide feedback. A prototype performance report and an updated prototype design will be provided to the Government at the end of Round II. As stated in the solicitation, the period of performance for Round II shall not exceed 6 months and the total fixed price shall not exceed $500,000.

Round III. Pilot Testing in an Operational Environment: The prototype(s) from Round II will be evaluated in an operational environment selected by the Government. The operational environment may be at one or more locations and may include multiple tests. Government representatives will attend tests and will provide feedback to the performer. The performer will use operational test results and Government feedback to refine the prototype for continued testing. A fully functional prototype and a detailed report on prototyping test results will be provided to the Government at the end of Round III. As stated in the solicitation, the period of performance for Round III shall not exceed 6 months and the total fixed price shall not exceed $750,000.

Round IV. Operational Test and Evaluation in Multiple User Scenarios: Additional prototypes from Round III with detailed installation and operating instructions will be provided to the Government during Round IV. The Government or a non-Government partner (under an NDA) will test and evaluate the prototype in multiple operating environments as selected by the Government or the non-Government partner. The performer will assist in these tests and evaluations as requested by the Government. SBIR funding (if available) for Round IV will require non-SBIR government funds included as a 1:1 Cost-Match for any amounts over $500,000. The number of end users and prototypes required, as well as the operational scenarios to be run are not yet defined. Therefore, this option is currently unpriced.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: This technology will have commercial application in any industrial fluid piping systems currently used in oil, gas, and power plant applications.


1. International Organization of Standards ISO 5167-2:2003(E). Measurement of fluid flow by means of pressure differential devices

2. The Practical Pumping Handbook, Elsevier Science, ISBN: 9781856174107

3. Blaine D. Sawchuk, Dale P. Sawchuk, Danny A. Sawchuk, “Flow conditioning and effects on accuracy for fluid flow measurement” American School of Gas Measurement Technology 2010

4. Laws E M and Ouazanne A K, 1994. Compact installations for differential flowmeters [J] Flow Measurement and Instrumentation 5 79-85

5. M. Anwer, R. M. C. So, and Y. G. Lai. Perturbation by and recovery from bend curvature of a fully developed turbulent pipe flow. Physics of Fluids A (1989-1993), 1(8):1387–1397, 1989.

6. A.K. Ouazzane, R. Benhadj, (2002) "Flow conditioners design and their effects in reducing flow metering errors", Sensor Review, Vol. 22 Issue: 3, pp.223-231, https://doi.org/10.1108/02602280210433061

KEYWORDS: Fully-Developed Flow; Piping; Flow Control