Carburetors and Venturi Tubes: Thank You Giovanni Battista Venturi

I know it has been a little while since I blogged about something with a motor so it should be no surprise that this one ties to something with a combustion chamber. This all starts with an Italian physicist, Giovanni Battista Venturi. His career was as a historian of science and a professor at the University of Modena. He gave Leonardo da Vinci’s creations a different perspective by crediting da Vinci to be a scientist with many of his creations rather than just an amazing artist. He then began to study fluid flow through tubes. This study became known as the Venturi Tube. The first patents in 1888 came to fruition long after Giovanni passed away. So what was this Venturi effect and how does it tie in to carburetors let alone compressed air?

The illustration below showcases the Venturi effect of a fluid within a pipe that has a constriction. The principle states that a fluid’s velocity must increase as it passes through a constricted pipe. As this occurs, the velocity increases while the static pressure decreases. The pressure drop that accompanies the increase in velocity is fundamental to the laws of physics. This is another principle we like to discuss known as Bernoulli’s principle.

1 – Venturi

Some of the first patents using Venturi’s began to appear in 1888. One of the key inventors for this was Karl Benz who founded Mercedes. This is how the Venturi principle ties into combustion engines for those that do not know the history. This patent is one of many that came out referencing the Venturi principle and carburetors. The carburetors can vary considerably in the complexity of their design. Many of the units all have a pipe that narrows in the center and expands back out, thus causing the pressure to fall and the velocity to increase. Yes, I just described a Venturi, this effect is what causes the fuel to be drawn into the carburetor. The higher velocity on the input (due to this narrowing restriction) results in higher volumes of fuel which results in higher engine rpms. The image below showcases Benz’s first patent using the Venturi.

2 – Venturi Patent

While carburetors slowly disappear and now can mainly be found in small engines such as weed eaters, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers, the Venturi principle continues to be found in industry and other items. Needless to say, I think Giovanni Battista Venturi would be proud of his findings and understanding how monumental they have been for technological advancements. For this, we will recognize the upcoming day of his passing 199 years ago on April 24, 1822.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

1 – Thierry Dugnolle, CC0, Venturi.gif, retrieved via Wikimedia Commons

2 – United States Patent and Trademark Office – Benz, Karl, Carburetor – Retrieved from,585.PN.%2526OS%3DPN%2F0382,585%2526RS%3DPN%2F0382,585&PageNum=&Rtype=&SectionNum=&idkey=NONE&Input=View+first+page

Don’t Fall Victim To Undersized Piping

Pressure drops, incorrect plumbing, undersized piping, insufficient flow; if you hear these terms from tech support of your point of use compressed air products or from your maintenance staff when explaining why a process isn’t working then you may be a victim of improper compressed air piping selection.
Often time this is due to a continued expansion of an existing system that was designed around a decade old plan. It could also come from a simple misunderstanding of what size of piping is needed and so to save some costs, smaller was used. Nonetheless, if you can understand a small number of variables and what your system is going to be used for, you can ensure the correct piping is used. The variables that you will want to consider when selecting a piping size that will suit your need and give the ability to expand if needed are shown below.

  • Minimum Operating Pressure Allowed (psig) – Lowest pressure permitted by any demand side point of use product.
  • System Pressure (psig) – Safe operating pressure that will account for pressure drops.
  • Flow Rate (SCFM) of demand side (products needing the supplied compressed air)
  • Total Length of Piping System (feet)
  • Piping Cost ($)
  • Installation Cost ($)
  • Operational Hours ( hr.)
  • Electical Costs ($/kwh)
  • Project Life (years) – Is there a planned expansion?

An equation can be used to calculate the diameter of pipe required for a known flow rate and allowable pressure drop. The equation is shown below.

A = (144 x Q x Pa) / (V x 60 x (Pd + Pa)
A = Cross-Sectional are of the pipe bore. (sq. in.).
Q = Flow rate (cubic ft. / min of free air)
Pa = Prevailing atmospheric absolute pressure (psia)
Pd  = Compressor discharge gauge pressure (psig)
V = Design pipe velocity ( ft/sec)

If all of these variables are not known, there are also reference charts which will eliminate the variables needed to total flow rate required for the system, as well as the total length of the piping. The chart shown below was taken from EXAIR’s Knowledge Base.

Once the piping size is selected to meet the needs of the system the future potential of expansion should be taken into account and anticipated for. If no expansion is planned, simply take your length of pipe and start looking at your cost per foot and installation costs. If expansions are planned and known, consider supplying the equipment now and accounting for it if the additional capital expenditure is acceptable at this point.

The benefits to having properly sized compressed air lines for the entire facility and for the long-term expansion goals makes life easier. When production is increased, or when new machinery is added there is not a need to re-engineer the entire system in order to get enough capacity to that last machine. If the main compressed air system is undersized then optimal performance for the facility will never be achieved. By not taking the above variables into consideration or just using what is cheapest is simply setting the system up for failure and inefficiencies. All of these considerations lead to an optimized compressed air system which leads to a sustainable utility.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Video Blog: Laminar and Turbulent Flows

I have written blogs about laminar and turbulent flows as related to the Reynold’s number.  Now, let’s demonstrate the difference between the two flows and the advantages of laminar flow from EXAIR’s engineered air nozzles; as demonstrated by our VariBlast Safety Air Gun.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Tools Of The Trade: The Rotameter

EXAIR’s Free Efficiency Lab

One of the free services we offer to customers here at EXAIR is our Efficiency Lab. In case you are not familiar here is a brief synopsis. Speak with an Application Engineer about your existing compressed air blowoff/point of use product and that you would like to know how much air it consumes. Fill out the brief survey and send the product you use in to our facility. Let us perform tests on calibrated test equipment to determine the force, flow, and noise level. We will then issue you a report that states what the EXAIR model would best be suited (if applicable) as well as how much compressed air you will be able to save. Order the recommendation and start saving money.

To do these evaluations, we have to have calibrated equipment that is reliable and capable of handling vast range of products we may receive in. For this, we could use a Digital Flowmeter, in some cases that is what has to be done due to large flow rates. For the majority of these though we go old school. We utilize a piece of equipment called a rotameter.

A rotameter pairs nicely with a calibrated pressure gauge as well.

The float can be seen with graduated marks for readings. The taper of the chamber is not easily seen with the naked eye.

This is a device that is designed to measure the flow rate of a fluid within a closed tube. The inside diameter of the tube is varied which causes the float within the meter to raise or lower.  They are calibrated for a specific gas at a given pressure and temperature, most are calibrated for atmospheric conditions, 14.7 psi (1.014 Bar). The meter must be mounted vertically and this is not always best suited for industrial environments.

When testing products the compressed air within the meter is pressurized which means we have to correct the reading for the given pressure, if the temperature is outside of the calibration temp then we must also perform that correction. We do this using a table provided by the manufacturer of the meter or by using the calculations shown to get exact values that may be in between the pressures in the table.

Pressure Correction Table


This will allow us to then multiply the Correction Factor by the meter reading and calculate our corrected flow for the point of use device at a given operating pressure and temperature.

Temperature correction table

Knowing where the values that are measured and calculated come from add validity to the reports and understanding all of the variables that go into reading like this helps to better validate the cost savings that can be seen.

In a pinch, for a field estimation, we can also use these Correction Factors and determine an approximate consumption rate of a device that has been measured at a pressure such as our cataloged 80 psig (5.5 Bar). This can often be done on the fly to help determine the flowrates currently on a system. This can be helpful when troubleshooting, giving estimated simple ROIs, and help justify results and reasons for future purchases of engineered solutions.

If you want to discuss the Efficiency Lab or any of the math behind our calculations, contact any Application Engineer, we can all help out.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer