The use of air vessels is an effective measure to control water hammer in a long-distance water supply system. The traditional shape of such vessels is cylindrical. In this paper, an innovative spherical air vessel is proposed to improve the force characteristics of the tank. A mathematical model of the spherical air vessel was established using the method of characteristics. A comparison was performed of water-hammer protection performance between the spherical air vessel and the cylindrical air vessel based on a practical water supply project. Furthermore, a sensitivity analysis on the parameters of the spherical air vessel was performed. The results showed that the spherical air vessels had better protective performance compared with the cylindrical air vessels. Under the same protection requirements, the spherical air vessel can reduce the total volume and surface area by more than 10%. In addition, for a fixed volume of the spherical air vessel, the protective effect improves with the increase of the initial gas volume. Increasing the connecting pipe diameter of the air vessel is beneficial for low-pressure protection, whereas it is adverse to high-pressure protection; in contrast, altering the installation elevation has little effect on water-hammer protection.

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