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Nozzles and diffusers

- A nozzle is a device that increases the velocity of a fluid at the expense of
- A diffuser is a device that increases the pressure of a fluid by slowing it down.
- The chief use of nozzle is to produce a jet of steam (or gas) of high velocity to
produce thrust for the propulsion of rocket motors and jet engines and to drive
steam or gas turbines.
- Diffusers are used in compressors, combustion chambers etc.
- The smallest section of the nozzle is known as the throat.

Types of nozzles and diffusers

Three types of nozzles: Converging, Diverging, Converging – diverging


Flow of steam through nozzles

- The flow of steam through nozzles may be regarded as adiabatic expansion.
- The steam has a very high velocity at the end of the expansion, and the enthalpy
decreases as expansion takes place.
- Friction exists between the steam and the sides of the nozzle; heat is produced as
the result of the resistance to the flow.
- The phenomenon of supersaturation occurs in the flow of steam through nozzles.
This is due to the time lag in the condensation of the steam during the expansion.

Continuity and steady flow energy equations

Through a certain section of the nozzle:

m.v = A.C
m is the mass flow rate, v is the specific volume, A is the cross-sectional area and
C is the velocity.
For steady flow of steam through a certain apparatus, principle of conservation of energy
h1 + C12 /2 + gz1 + q = h2 + C22 /2 + gz2 + w

For nozzles, changes in potential energies are negligible, w = 0 and q ≅ 0.

h1 + C12 /2 = h2 + C22 /2

Nozzle and diffuser efficiencies

In ideal case, flow through nozzle and diffuser is isentropic. But in actual case, friction
exists and affects in following ways:

i) reduces the enthalpy drop

ii) reduces the final velocity of steam
iii) increases the final dryness fraction
iv) increases specific volume of the fluid
v) decreases the mass flow rate

η = (h1 – h2a) / (h1 –h2s) = (C2a2 - C12 )/( C2s2 - C12 )

Efficiency of nozzle depends upon:

a) material it is made of, b) smoothness, c)size and shape, d) angle of nozzle
divergence, e)nature of fluid flowing and its state, f) fluid velocity, g)
turbulence in nozzle flow.

Velocity coefficient: is the ratio of the actual exit velocity to isentropic velocity obtained
for the same pressure drop.
kn = C2' / C2

kn = √ [(h1 – h2a) / (h1 –h2s)]

kn = √ η

Coefficient of discharge, Cd = mactual / mtheoretical


1. Dry and saturated steam enters a nozzle at a pressure of 11 bar and velocity of 80
m/s. The discharge pressure is 5 bar and discharge velocity is 500 m/s. Quantity
of steam flowing is 2 kg/s and the heat loss from the nozzle is 8 KJ/s. Determine
the final dryness fraction of steam (quality of steam). [Answer: 0.943]

2. Estimate the rate of flow of steam for a steam turbine which uses a convergent
nozzles. The expansion of steam is isentropic. Total area of the nozzle at exit is 30
cm2. At the inlet of these nozzles steam is at 6 bar and 260 oC. The exit pressure
is 4 bar. Neglect velocity of approach. Find the condition of steam exit. If
discharge coefficient is 0.95, what should be exit area of nozzles, assuming
velocity and specific volume are the same.
Nozzle shape for uniform pressure drops

Mass flow through nozzle

<Formula derived in class>


Throat pressure for maximum discharge/ Existence of a critical pressure in nozzle flow
(choking flow)

The pressure at which the area is minimum and the discharge per unit area is maximum is
termed as the critical pressure.

Critical pressure ratio, r =

< Derivation done in lecture>

For saturated steam, n = 1.135

r = 0.5774
For superheated steam, n = 1.3
r = 0.5457
For gas nozzles, n is replaced by k =1.4
r = 0.528

Physical meaning of critical pressure

Consider two vessels A and B joined by a convergent nozzle as shown below (i). A
contains steam at pressure P1 while pressure in vessel B, P2 is varied. The variation of
mass flow rate with pressure ratio is shown in the graph shown below (ii).

For choked flow (i.e. one with maximum flow rate)

C2 = √ (n. P2. v2) <Derived in class>

This represents the local velocity of sound in steam at pressure P2 and density ρ2 = 1/v2.
Thus it is seen that the velocity of steam in adiabatic and frictionless flow reaches the
velocity of sound in steam at throat.

Effect of back pressure

The back pressure is the pressure in the exhaust region outside the nozzle exit.

In a converging nozzle
In a converging diverging nozzle

The highest velocity to which a fluid can be accelerated in a converging nozzle is limited
to sonic velocity (Mach number, M=1), which occurs at the exit plane (throat) of the
nozzle. Accelerating a fluid to supersonic velocities (M>1) can be accomplished only by
attaching a diverging flow section to the subsonic nozzle at the throat. The resulting
combined flow section is a converging-diverging nozzle.

Forcing a fluid through a converging-diverging nozzle is no guarantee that the fluid will
be accelerated to supersonic velocity. For given inlet conditions, the flow through a
converging-diverging nozzle is governed by the back pressure.

The effect of variation of back pressure in a convergent-divergent nozzle is shown next:

Supersaturated flow in Nozzles
As steam expands in the nozzle, its pressure and temperature drop, and it is expected that
the steam start condensing when it strikes the saturation line. But this is not always the
case. Owing to the high velocities, the residence time of the steam in the nozzle is small,
and there may not sufficient time for the necessary heat transfer and the formation of
liquid droplets. Consequently, the condensation of steam is delayed for a little while. This
phenomenon is known as supersaturation, and the steam that exists in the wet region
without containing any liquid is known as supersaturated steam.

The locus of points where condensation will take place regardless of the initial
temperature and pressure at the nozzle entrance is called the Wilson line. The Wilson line
lies between 4 and 5 percent moisture curves in the saturation region on the h-s diagram
for steam, and is often approximated by the 4 percent moisture line. The supersaturation
phenomenon is shown on the h-s chart below:


1. Carbon dioxide flows steadily through a varying-cross-sectional-area nozzle at a mass

flow rate of 3 kg/s. The carbon dioxide enters the duct at a pressure of 1400 kPa and
200oC with a low velocity, and it expands in the nozzle to a pressure of 200 kPa. The
duct is designed so that the flow can be approximated as isentropic. Determine the
density, velocity, flow area, and Mach number at each location along the duct that
corresponds to a pressure drop of 200 kPa.

2. Air at enters a converging nozzle at a pressure of 1 MPa and 600oC with negligible
velocity. Determine the mass flow rate through the nozzle for a nozzle throat area of
50 cm2 when the back pressure is (a) 0.7 MPa and (b) 0.4 MPa.

3. Design a convergent-divergent nozzle if air at 9 bar and 200oC expands in the nozzle
at the rate of 5 kg/s into a space at 1.1 bar. Assume negligible inlet velocity.

4. Steam enters a converging-diverging nozzle at 2 MPa and 400 oC with a negligible

velocity and a mass flow rate of 2.5 kg/s, and it exits at a pressure of 300 kPa. The
flow is isentropic between the nozzle entrance and the throat, and the overall nozzle
efficiency is 93 percent. Determine the throat and exit areas.