PPI BCD Plastic Pipe Design Calculator

The BCD Plastic Pipe Design Calculator is a software tool that aids in designing plastic pressure pipe and tubing systems using the materials CPVC, HDPE, PEX, PE-RT, PP-R and PP-RCT. It is intended to assist designers using these materials for applications such as plumbing, water service, fire protection, hydronic piping (liquids), radiant heating & cooling, snow & ice melting, geothermal ground loops, district heating, and turf conditioning.

The tool includes six main functions:

  • Pressure/Head Loss
  • Pipe Weight/Volume
  • Thermal Expansion/Contraction
  • Hydraulic Shock
  • Expansion Arm/Loop
  • Static Water Column Pressure

The BCD Calculator utilizes dimensional data from ASTM International and CSA Group industry standards for these piping materials, as well as data gathered from various PPI research projects and publications.

Note on Fittings: Characteristic pressure loss data on pipe fittings is often published by fitting suppliers as “equivalent feet of pipe length”. This data is not built into the Calculator, due to the wide variety of fitting designs available in the market. When doing Pressure/Head Loss calculations for piping systems with fittings, the user can manually enter this data for the selected fittings, if it is known, and the pressure loss through fittings will be added to the calculated pressure loss through piping.

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The Calculator allows the user to select either IP/US or Metric/SI working units, as well as multiple fluids (e.g., water, propylene glycol, ethylene glycol). Fluid temperatures and mix ratios are chosen by the user.

The BCD Calculator allows the results to be viewed, printed, or emailed.

Updates: In March 2021, Version 2.0 of the BCD Calculator went live with numerous updates:

  • Updated appearance
  • Pipe/Tubing Selection Menu is revised to prevent confusion between pipe types
  • New sizes of PEX pipe are added, with dimensions taken from ASTM F2788
  • HDPE pipe and tubing are added, with dimensions taken from ASTM D2737, ASTM D2239, ASTM D3035, ASTM F714, and ASTM F3123
  • PP-R & PP-RCT pipe are added, with dimensions taken from ASTM F2389 and CSA B137.11
  • Links are added to BCD Material webpages
  • Product pictures are updated

Updates: In December 2021, Version 2.1 of the BCD Calculator went live with this update:

  • Methanol is now a fluid choice when the box is checked for “Is this a Geothermal Application?”
  • For methanol, viscosity and density information is from “Geothermal Heating and Cooling – Design of Ground Source Heat Pump Systems” by Dr. Steve Kavanaugh and Kevin Rafferty (ASHRAE RP-1674) and “Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook (7th ed.)” by Perry, R. H., & Green, D. W.
  • Available data is limited to a temperature range of 32°F to 86°F (0°C to 30°C).

Updates: In July 2022, Version 2.2 of the BCD Calculator went live with these changes:

  • Fifty-seven (57) new Polypropylene sizes have been added, including many DR9, DR17, and DR17.6 wall types for both PP-R and PP-RCT
  • Several Polypropylene pipe dimensions (e.g., OD, wall thicknesses, tolerances) have been slightly adjusted to match the dimensional requirements in the latest editions of ASTM F2389 and CSA B137.11. Most of these dimensional adjustments were by just a few thousandths of an inch
  • Wall types “DR7.3” are now listed as “DR7.4” to match the latest ASTM and CSA standard specifications

Updates: In October 2022, Version 2.3 of the BCD Calculator went live with these changes:

  • Both Calcium Chloride and Sodium Chloride solutions are added as Fluid Types for Pressure Drop/Head Loss and Pipe Weight/Volume functions
  • These fluids are sometimes used in chilled water applications, which is a common application for BCD piping materials
  • Viscosity and density data for these fluids was based on data in the ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook, Ch. 31

Updates: In December 2022, Version 3.0 of the BCD Calculator went live with these changes:

  • Addition of a sixth function, Static Water Column Pressure, which can used to estimate the pressure inside pipes at the bottom of geothermal boreholes and multi-story plumbing, fire protection, or hydronic systems
  • This new function helps designers to determine a potentially overlooked aspect of piping design - the internal pipe pressure that is created by the column of fluid in a tall vertical pipe
  • With water at 73° F, this pressure is 4.3 psi for every 10 feet of elevation, but other fluids have different densities, and the temperature of the fluid also changes its pressure
  • This new function allows the user to select the fluid, the temperature, and the elevation of the water column 

Updates: In January 2023, Version 3.1 of the BCD Calculator went live with these changes:

  • Pressure Drop calculations were revised to use an iterative method for solving the implicit Colebrook-White equation for calculating the friction factor of pipes
  • The Calculation Details graphic for Pressure Drop / Head Loss was updated to show this revision
  • The upper limit for Flow Rate in the Pressure Drop / Head Loss function was extended to 500,000 USGPM
  • An instruction video has been added to the Static Water Column Pressure function


Introduction to BCD Plastic Pipe Design Calculator

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Using the Thermal Expansion Function

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Using the Static Water Column Pressure Function

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Using the Pressure Drop/Head Loss Function

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Using the Hydraulic Shock Function

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Using the Pipe Weight/Volume Function

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Using the Expansion Arm/Loop Function

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