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What Is Thermal Expansion?

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All pipes and vessels expand and contract in direct proportion to a temperature change. The temperature change can be caused by such factors as temperature of the flowing media in pipelines or a change in surrounding weather conditions.

Therefore expansion and contraction can be calculated mathematically. To calculate the amount of expansion or contraction in a pipe line three factors have to be considered.

  1. Temperature change, usually from 0 deg. C.
  2. Length of straight pipe involved.
  3. Coefficient of thermal expansion of the material of the pipe involved

For practical purposes and ease of calculation Stourflex have produced a thermal expansion table showing the number of millimetres of expansion per meter of popular pipeline materials.

An Example of how to calculate thermal expansion in as steel pipeline

Question – Calculate the amount of expansion in a steel pipeline that is 50 metres in length. The pipe is being installed when ambient conditions are 20 deg. C and when in service the pipeline will be carrying heating water at 80 deg. C

Temperature change = 80 deg. C – 20 deg. C = 62 deg. C From the Stourflex expansion table mm. of expansion per meter of steel = 0.66

Length of pipeline in metres = 50

Total expansion 50 x 0.66 = 33mm

This is a very simple calculation relating to thermal expansion. At Stourflex we are able to provide load reports by both mathematical calculations and also when required using CAESAR II® Pipework Flexibility and Stress Analysis Software, showing the forces which are generated by and need to be contained when installing expansion joints

A host of solutions

At Stourflex, we offer a host of solutions designed to prevent problems caused by thermal expansion and vibration. Not only do we stock a comprehensive range metallic expansion joints but we also hold significant quantities of tied and untied rubber bellows. Our major stock lines are for our JP01 & JP02 rubber bellows in EPDM grade for problems associated with noise and vibration in chilled and low temperature hot water systems. These ranges are supported by  rubber bellows produced in hypalon for chemicals, nitrile for oils and food grade quality. We also supply a range of rubber bellows for high temperature water up to 120 deg. C. This particular type is our JP05 & JP06 EPDM bellows and are certified to DIN4809

At Stourflex we understand the need to hold large stock volumes that enable us to respond to your needs quickly, so downtime can be reduced in the event of maintenance and breakdowns. See our range of expansion joints to find out more.

Find thermal expansion solutions today

Contact us today to learn more about our products including our expansion joints. We can provide axial, lateral, angular and gimbal joints for industrial heating, steam mains and more. What’s more is that grooved ends plus weld ends, flanged, screwed and mapress system fittings are also available to meet your requirements.