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Water hammer risk evaluation for long distance gravity water transmission


Xiaoxue Wang
, Ronghe Wang
, Jing Luo
and Haibo Yang

1 Master; Key Clean Production Laboratory, Division of Energy and Environment,
Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University; Room 201, Block L, Tsinghua
District, Xili University Town of Shenzhen, Nanshan, Shenzhen City; Email:; 15989503742;
2 Professor, Key Clean Production Laboratory, Division of Energy and Environment,
Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University; Room 111B, Block L, Tsinghua
District, Xili University Town of Shenzhen, Nanshan, Shenzhen City; Email:; Tel: 0755-26036522;
3 Master; Key Clean Production Laboratory, Division of Energy and Environment,
Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University; Room 201, Block L, Tsinghua
District, Xili University Town of Shenzhen, Nanshan, Shenzhen City; Email:; 15815570137;
4 Master; Key Clean Production Laboratory, Division of Energy and Environment,
Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University; Room 201, Block L, Tsinghua
District, Xili University Town of Shenzhen, Nanshan, Shenzhen City; Email:; 13352998366;


Water hammer is of great damage to long distance raw water transmission pipelines.
Once a pipe burst accident occurs, the entire city's water supply will be affected. We
take a city drinking water transmission aqueducts as an example, convert the
construction drawings and general layout plans with AutoCAD format to DXF
format which can be imported to water supply model systems, extract the physical
attributes of the pipes, air valves, control valves, reservoirs and other auxiliary
facilities, establish a computer model of water supply system which contains pipes of
DN2600, DN2400 and DN2200 with a total length of 71km, 127 air valves, 73
control valves, and one reservoir. We verify the model by manually checking the
physical properties of the pipe network with inspecting profiles, charts and tables;
build the water hammer analysis scenarios through adjusting the control valves on
the aqueducts at the outlets; evaluate pipe burst risk by scenario analysis; set a surge
tank at the point of maximum vapor volume to prevent water hammer. The results
show that the air valves cannot prevent water hammer as the water hammer
protective equipment do, and evaluating the water hammer risk for the long distance
water conveyance system is necessary.


Water Hammer; Risk Assessment; Model; Water Transmission Mains; Pipe Burst


Water hammer occurs during a sudden operation of valves (open or close in a short
time) and pumps (instant shut down) or an instant flow change, which causes the
phenomenon of liquid column separation and cavitation, and then leads to pipe
wrinkles or breakage and damage to valves and pumps. Research on water hammer
type, intensity, wave calculation, valve operation and mathematical models is a long
history, and recently there comes up pulse test platforms, pulse pipes flushing, and
new simulation methods. By now there is an attempt to simulate and predict pipe
burst based on the instantaneous shock wave theory (Rich, 1963; Wylie & Streeter,
1978; Ghidaoui et al. 2005; Zheng et al. 2009 and Leishear, 2008).
Preventions for water hammer are summarized as
(1)Lower velocity. This method is rarely applied, because it needs large pipe
diameters and so it becomes expensive.
(2)Use pumps with flywheels or a large moment of inertia. Water hammer will be
reduced while power consumption, wind resistance, and difficulty in driving
(3)Add a surge tank after pump stations or other key location. It is effective, safe and
reliable, at the same time it brings problems of antifreeze, stagnant water, and high
(4)Deploy check valves which close slower than the water hammer wave spread back
and forth once.
(5)Deploy check valves which close completely before the backflow of the liquid
column. It works because of a small displacement of backflow and flow rate,
meanwhile a large backflow resistance.
(6) Use air pressure tanks and air valves to adjust the vapor volume in the pipe
(Streeter, 1982; Walski et al., 2001; Shirzad et al., 2011 and Wu et al., 2011).
(7)Remove check valves or deploy balloon-type water hammer eliminators,
pump-stopping water hammer eliminators, self-closing water hammer eliminators,
bypass pipes, bursting disks and so on (Borga, 2000).
A water hammer model was built for a raw water transport network in Sichuan
Province, China, and operation combinations for water hammer risk evaluation were
designed. Water hammer preventions must be evaluated and applied due to great
changes in ground elevation and high pressure in this network. Previous works were
mainly based on pipe ancillary equipment or optimizing operations of pumps and
valves, while few focused on scenario forecast based on hydraulic model. Therefore,
this article takes the latter to simulate, analyze, and respond to possible water
hammer for the network, which will benefit local water groups and make a
demonstration for related works.


Modeling. This paper established hydraulic model and water hammer model of a
city's long-distance gravity pipeline, using steady-state and quasi-dynamic

The original data collection. Pipe network modeling is the first to collect the data
required. The accuracy of the raw data determines the accuracy of the models
calculate results. The raw data of the water pipelines include pipeline layout,
cross-section diagram, pipeline pressure and major equipment, flow resistance
coefficient, flow coefficient and the valve opening curve and the type and operating
rules of valves. The raw data needed to be aggregated and organized into a format
which model calculation program can read.

Modeling and Verification. After the completion of the data preparation phase, we
imported the data into the database of the network model by manually editing the
data. By DXF graphics conversion we extracted the geographic coordinates, relative
position and physical properties of pipelines and ancillary facilities. And then
manually imported diameter, elevation, water demand, pump stations and valve
operation, etc., and established the correspondence of various types of data (Figure 1).
Because original data may need to be amended over time, attention was paid to the
data correspondence when importing data.

Figure 1.Model data storage and operation

The water pipeline includes two parts, and both are gravity flow pipelines (Figure 2).

Load raw data
Pipeline data

Other data Core data
Model operation parameters
Results data
Model calculation
Model database

First part are pipes of DN2600, PCCP are from water source to the city outer ring
road, length of about 26 km, ground elevation of starting is about 75 m higher than
ending point. And there is a flow control station before the pipe into city outer ring
road, with two DN1800 piston valves in parallel controlling flow and pressure,
minimum water level of 603.3 m and highest water level of 608.3 m. The second part
of the pipeline is main water distribution line along city outer ring road, DN2200 and
DN2400 steel pipe, a length of about 30 km, connected with the first part of the
pipelines in the middle. Several nodes along the pipeline supply to the city, the nodal
flow is shown in Figure 2. The total flow of the left branch line is 22208.33 m
/h and
the total flow of the right branch is 7041.67 m
/h, the total amount of water from
reservoir is 35750.00 m

Model Verification. When modeling was completed, the first stage was checking of
input parameters. Diameter, tube length and elevation were tested compliance with
raw data, in accordance with the order of flow from large to small. And then verified
the location of the various components of the pipeline according to the stake mark
order. Checked valves, drain, air valve, adjustable in different classes and adjusted
the specific valve type and caliber, mode of operation, the head loss coefficient, air
valve orifice size and type of control and so on, to make them consistent with the
reality and ensure the rationality of its operation.
When checking the process of hydraulic calculation, steady-state hydraulic
conditions in the pipeline should be calculated firstly. The propose of setting
operating parameters of the calculation engine is to get preliminary calculation
results, including pressure, flow, vapor pressure and the amount of steam. Then the
results was compared to data initialization, making use of part of flow and pressure
data as a validation set to identify possible errors and omissions in the modeling
process. In this step, due to the huge number of parameters, complex structure and
logical controls in the quasi-dynamic model, it was difficult to use ordinary
automatic parameter determination method. In recent years although parameter
optimization based on genetic algorithm (GA) and reverse hydraulic calculation
method are universal, the method of parameters determination is relatively complex,
in practice, manual check is more common. In accordance with the order of
sensitivity, we adjusted the user's demand, to shorten the gap between flow rate and
pressure and the actual value. Then Through estimating leakage loss according to the
pipe network night minimum flow, we adjusted the pipe network leakage and finally
adjusted wall hydraulic roughness C. Preliminary calculation was repeated to
improve the accuracy of the model after some adjustment.

Water hammer simulation. The total length of pipeline is close to 60 km. The
whole travel time of water hammer wave is close to 2 min. The wave velocity value
in the steel pipe is 1200 m/s as an analog velocity based on experience. In order to
fully understand the spread of water hammer, the end of the calculation time was set
to more than 6 min after valve closed , and t = 0 s was the normal steady flow state.
Considering the length, wave velocity of each tube and complexity of the calculation,
we set the time step of 0.1 s.

Control valve. According to these pipelines, we designed a number of conditions that
may cause water hammer. Based on the actual usage of water pipelines, we set
different operating time of control valves at outlets on main pipes, as control
methods of water hammer analysis. Table 1 is a list of control valves, where GPV
means valve, followed serial number and position (Stake + distance to Stake). The
distribution of the control valves is shown in Figure 2.

Table 1. Control valve
Valve Number Stake + distance to Stake
GPV-2 113+90
GPV-3 171+88.8
GPV-6 252+0-1NORTH
GPV-7 157+60WEST
GPV-8 126+40
GPV-9 99+50
GPV-12 33+73
GPV-13 11+45
GPV-14 00+90
GPV-15 158+90EAST
GPV-16 243+80
GPV-17 300+45

Figure 2. Map of control valves and Demand

Design of the valve operating time. Different operating time was set according to the
roles and characteristics of different valves, DN1800 piston valve and DN1600
butterfly valve for 30 min, DN2200 and DN2400 butterfly valve for 45 min, DN2600
butterfly valves for 60 min. For the evaluation of the water hammers damage in the
case of emergency, there were also 1 min, 6.7 min (400 s) operating time. Then we
formed 12 scenarios (Table 2) through combining control valves and their design
operating time, each including several closing time. For each closing time, several
lines and specified points were calculated simultaneously.

Table 2. Scenario plan list
Number Control valve Diameter (mm) Closing time (min)
1 GPV-6-252+0-1NORTH 1,800 6.7 30 90
2 GPV-2-113+90 2,600 1 6.7 60
3 GPV-12-33+73 1,600 1 6.7 30
4 GPV-3-171+88.8 1,600 1 6.7 30
5 GPV-7-157+60WEST 2,200 1 6.7 45
6 GPV-8-126+40 1,000 1 6.7 30
7 GPV-9-99+50 1,600 1 6.7 30
8 GPV-13-11+45 1,000 1 6.7 30
9 GPV-14-00+90 1,400 1 6.7 30
10 GPV-15-158+90EAST 2,400 1 6.7 45
11 GPV-16-243+80 2,400 1 6.7 45
12 GPV-17-300+45 1,600 1 6.7 30

Pipeline design pressure. Pipes have different bearing capacity of pressure, which
will influence the risk of water hammer. Table 3.

Table 3. Maximum working pressure and maximum test pressure of the
No. stake mark
1 00-65-100+00 10.04
0.4 0.6
Lined with
2 100+00-162+80 16.41
0.6 0.9
Lined with
3 162+80-252+53.3 25.00
0.8 1.1
Lined with
(at intersection)
0.9 1.4
Lined with
epoxy resin
0.9 1.4
Lined with
epoxy resin
0.9 1.4
Lined with
epoxy resin


12 scenarios above were simulated, and the calculated results were summarized in
the pipeline cross-sectional view to show the highest, lowest hydraulic head and
maximum volume of steam of different points. Figure 3 shows that the hydraulic
conditions in a segment of pipeline. X-axis represents the distance from the start
point, y-axis represents hydraulic head, where red is the highest level within the
simulation time, the minimum level blue, and green for the pipe elevation.

Scenario-1: Flow control stationGPV-6-252+0-1NORTH. The flow control station
has two DN1800 pipes in parallel, each have a piston valve to control flow, that
GPV-6-252+0-1 North and GPV-6-252+0-1 South. The hydraulic head changes along
the pipeline caused by the closure is shown in Figure 3, local water flow and pressure
changes over time at Stake 250 +90 approximately 160 m upstream of the flow
control station can be observed in Figure 4. For all the closing time the pipeline is
safe if one control valve is in the fully open state, the other is being closed. But it
was very dangerous if the two piston valves in flow control station closed at the same
time, or one was off, another was closing. In the case of one closed state the other
being closed in, 6.7 min closing time caused a high pressure of 2.3 MPa, far
exceeding the maximum pressure of the pipeline; The result is still not safe when
closing time extended to 30 min, the maximum pressure was 1.2 MPa; In fact,
closing time of piston valve in flow control station was extended to 90 min, it still
caused 0.86 MPa high-pressure upstream 160 m, higher than DN2200 maximum
working pressure there (0.8 MPa). The result is still dangerous.
For these situations, an assumptions protective measure was set in the model: a surge
tank upstream of the flow control station. The calculation results showed that it can
effectively eliminate danger of high pressure. The highest pressure was 0.735 MPa,
lower than the maximum working pressure 0.9 MPa when this valve closed for 6.7

Figure 3. Scenario-1 hydraulic head changes along pipes (one off, another
shutting down)

Figure 4. Partial pressure and flow changes (closing time 6.7 min, 30 min and 90

Scenario-2: GPV-2-113+90. In the view of pipeline from the reservoir to the left
valve GPV-14, closing valve for 60 min did not cause danger. Closing valve for 1
min caused a high-pressure of 300 m water column (2.9 MPa), and 6.7 min for 110 m
(1.08 MPa), far exceeding the pipes maximum working pressure, which was
dangerous. In addition, 6.7 min closing time caused 0.49 MPa high pressure 5 km
distance from the reservoir, while the maximum working pressure of pipe here was
only 0.4 MPa.

Scenario-3: GPV-12-33+73. GPV-12-33+73 valve didnt cause a great impact, as it
was in branch pipe, where the flow rate was only 1950m
/h. The closing time for 1
min only led to 7 m change of hydraulic head at the end of the pipeline. The
maximum pressure of the pipeline at all locations was lower than the maximum
working pressure. It is the same for 6.7 min and 30 min.

Other scenarios. Control valves which did not cause any danger were
GPV-17-300+4, GPV-14-00+90, GPV-13-11+45, GPV-9-99+50 GPV-8-126+40 and
GPV-3-171+88.8, regardless of closing time. These valves in branch line were
Similar to GPV-12-33+73. Closing for 1 min caused a slight pressure changes, but in
a safe range.
In a view from reservoir to the east end of this pipeline, GPV-15-158+90 East and
GPV-16-243+80 closing for 1 min resulted in tiny danger. Closing GPV-16-243+80
resulted in 110 m high pressure upstream of the valve, 54 m higher than pressure of
normal operation. Water hammer reached the middle of the pipeline, upstream the
flow control station after about 50 s, resulting in 20 m fluctuations. Closing
GPV-15-158+90 EAST resulted in 75 m pressure, higher than the normal 35 m. At
stake mark 99 +80 (2 km upstream of GPV-2), 10 km away from reservoir, a highest
pressure reached 0.329 MPa. The pipe here was DN2600 PCCP, maximum working
pressure of 0.4 MPa, close to the highest pressure, so it was dangerous. No danger
occurred downstream of the flow control station, because the highest pressure was
much lower than maximum working pressure, although higher than that of stake
mark 99+80.
Closing GPV-7-157+60WEST resulted in a greater danger. When closing for 1 min,
the maximum pressure generated 12 km from reservoir. Pipe here bore a pressure of
2.04 MPa, far exceeding its maximum working pressure 0.9 MPa and a maximum
test pressure 1.4 MPa (DN2200 steel). In addition, the pressure exceeded the
maximum working pressure of 0.6 MPa upstream of GPV-2-113+90 and 0.8 MPa
upstream of GPV-3-171+88.8, which was dangerous. The results were still dangerous
when closing time was 6.7 min. The pressure was 1.176 MPa downstream of
GPV-7-157+60, higher than maximum working pressure 0.8 MPa of DN2200 steel
pipe there.


Valves on branch lines didnt impact much in the water hammer simulation results.
No danger occurred when closing time was more than 1 min. Water hammer was not
serious in pipelines in north and in east because of the small demands. The system
was safe when the valves on main pipe closed more than 6.7 min. The harm in west
was greater than east, as demand in west was larger, but not very serious.
It is reasonable for the first part of pipeline that the design working pressure
gradually increases with elevation decreasing. There is no harm when manual
butterfly valve is closed 45 min (for DN2200 and DN2400) or 60 min (for DN2600),
so its reasonable to leave a certain safety coefficient. In addition it avoids many
disadvantages to use combined air valves instead of single-hole exhaust.
The flow control station has a big influence on the system, because of using two
DN1800 piston valves with small diameter and large local loss coefficient. Closing
two valves at the same time caused serious danger according to the simulation, even
for 30 min closing time. The water hammer is the most serious when one valve
closed and the other is closing, the maximum pressure is still higher than working
pressure here even for 90 min closing time. So extending valve closing time cannot
completely eliminate the danger of water hammer. Some water hammer protection
measures are necessary. A surge tank upstream of the flow control station can prevent
water hammer damage caused by piston valves, misuse and failure in pipelines.


The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Shenzhen Fundamental
Research Program of China Water supply network pipe rupture and leakage control
technology research (JC201105180804A) and Water supply network optimization
scheduling technology research (JCYJ20120616213618826), and Seventh
Framework Programme (FP7) Marie Curie Actions (PIRSES-GA-2012-318985).


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