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How To Calculate Exhaust Pipe
Diameter


 

If you’re a maths genius and/or an engineer, you’re probably going to like this page. However if you find yourself4 inchbend getting stuck (or bored) with the info below, here are the key take-always:

1. The factory exhaust pipe diameter is usually a good choice for most vehicles.

2. The exhaust manufacturers are doing all the maths for us – no need to reinvent the wheel. If they say it will work for your vehicle, it will probably work for your vehicle.

3. Also here there,s an easy-to-read exhaust system size table that is good for quick calculations.

Breaking Down The Problem

While we’re not going to go through and list out all the formulas and calculations you need to figure this exactly, we will break down the problem, explain how you would go about figuring things out scientifically, and then leave you with some good exhaust system maths.

The science goes like this…

1. Mass of air that the engine breathes in + mass of fuel = mass of exhaust gases. 2. To calculate the volume of air the engine takes in, we multiply the displacement of the engine by the engine RPM and then divide by two (it takes two full revolutions for the engine to exhaust it’s entire air volume). We then convert that to volume to mass. 3. To make the calculations easy, you want to assume that combustion is perfect, i.e. there aren’t any by-products, any unburned fuel, etc. It’s easier to assume perfect combustion and then “back in” to the actual numbers using an estimate after the fact . 4. Since you’re assuming perfect combustion, it’s easy to figure out how much fuel mass is added to the exhaust. 5. Once you know the mass of the exhaust gas, you just figure out how much volume that mass would occupy. Of course, you have to adjust for expansion due to the high exhaust gas temperature.

That’s it! Of course, when you sit down to figure it, you’ll find that getting a good scientific estimate takes a lot of work (which is why we don’t bother with it here).

Exhaust System Maths

Easy Way To Estimate: Your intake system needs to flow 1.5 CFM per engine horsepower, and your exhaust system needs to flow 2.2 CFM per engine horsepower.

Good Way To Estimate: Take engine RPM x engine displacement, then divide by two. This is the intake volume. Use this same volume of air for the exhaust system, but then correct for thermal expansion (you need to know exhaust temps to figure things out).

Exhaust Pipe Size Estimate: A good section of straight pipe will flow about 115 CFM per square inch of area. Here’s a quick table that shows how many CFM each common pipe size will flow, as well as the estimated max horsepower for each pipe size:

NOTE: These numbers are estimates and that other performance mods must be taken into account

Tube Diameter (inches) Tube Area (in2) Total CFM (est.)  HP N/A  HP Turbo
1 1/2 1.48 171 68 145
2 2.76 318 134 279
2 1/2 4.43 509 222 453
3 6.49 747 329 689
      est est

All pipes are assumed to be 1.5mm gauge stainless steel.

 You can see that up to 400HP most exhaust systems only need to be 2 1/2 inch in diameter. Anything larger is overkill !!.