Phenomena

Holding Pipes in Place

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Newton’s 3rd law states that any action has an equal and opposite reaction. Often engineers use this to our advantage; the thrust from expelling propellants is what lifts our rockets to space. But sometimes those reactions are undesirable, as illustrated in this Practical Engineering video with underground pipes.

Anytime flow through the pipe is forced to change direction, the flow causes an equal and opposite force on the joint. Just as with rockets, engineers refer to this reaction force as thrust. And if the thrust goes unaccounted for, it will force pipe joints apart. Civil engineers use several methods to fix pipelines against these forces, including concrete blocks that distribute the force to the surrounding soil and flange fittings that resist pipe movement. (Video and image credit: Practical Engineering)

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