Pressurised pipe systems transport fluids daily over long distances and sediment deposits are responsible for narrowing the cross-sectional area of the pipe. This reduces the carrying capacity in gravity pipes and increases the energy consumption in rising mains. As partial blockages do not give rise to any external evidence, they are considered the most insidious fault occurring in pipe systems. Thus, the refinement of reliable techniques for detecting partial blockages at an early stage is of great interest to water utilities. This paper presents a computational fluid dynamics (CFD)-based analysis of the steady-state flow through a sharp-edged orifice which corresponds to the most straightforward partial blockage feature in a pipe. The main motivation is the fact that the interaction between pressure waves and a partial blockage – on which Transient Test-Based Techniques for fault detection are based – is strongly influenced by the pre-transient conditions at the partial blockage. The refined CFD model has been validated by considering experimental data selected from the literature. The comparison of obtained results demonstrates the good performance of the numerical model. This authorised exploring in detail the features of the flow through the orifice as a necessary premise to its use within the successive transient analysis.


  • A comprehensive analysis of the low-Reynolds number flow through a sharp-edged orifice (partial blockage) is provided by computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

  • The successful comparison of CFD with reference papers demonstrates that the model accurately describes the laminar flow through an orifice in steady-state conditions.

  • The obtained results can be further used for the transient analysis of the interaction between a pressure wave and the obstacle.

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