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Modeling Reference - Air Valves


Applies To
Product(s): Bentley HAMMER
Version(s): V8i, CONNECT Edition
Area: Modeling
Original Author: Jesse Dringoli, Bentley Technical Support Group

Overview
This TechNote explains how the Air Valve element works and its typical application in HAMMER.

How it Works and When to Use it

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The Air Valve element (sometimes referred to as a combination air valve or CAV) is typically placed at
high points in the pipeline and other areas that are susceptible to sub-atmospheric pressure during a
transient event. They allow air to enter into the system during periods when the head drops below the
pipe elevation and expels air from the system when water columns begin to rejoin. A er the air has
been expelled and the pressure is positive, the valve becomes closed.

If you are analyzing an existing system that has air valves, you should place them at the appropriate
location(s). If analyzing a proposed system or system improvements, you will likely want to first
compute the transient simulation without the air valves. In the transient results viewer, you would
check the pressure envelope to identify critical points where air valves may help prevent vapor
pockets. Then, you would place the air valve(s) along your pipeline and compute the transient
simulation for a range of air valve types/configurations. Comparing the profile animation or pressure
envelope for each trial of air valve configurations (orifice sizes/types, etc) will give you a good idea of
the sensitivity/behavior of the air valve(s) in your system.

There are essentially two ways in which an active air valve can behave:

1. Pressure below atmospheric - air valve is open and acts to maintain pressure to 0 on the
upstream end.
2. Pressure above atmospheric - air valve is closed and acts as any junction node.

The presence of air in the line limits sub-atmospheric pressures in the vicinity of the valve and for
some distance to either side, as shown on HAMMER profile graphs. Air can also reduce high transient
pressures if it is compressed enough to slow the water columns prior to impact.

Note: low or sub-atmospheric pressure can still occur further along the
pipeline; the air valve element only provides local protection.

Typically, the air inlet orifice is large (1-3"), so as to allow free air intake and not throttle due to the
sonic limit. If the air inflow orifice is too small, the model may show the hydraulic grade dipping
below the physical elevation of the air valve (negative pressure) in an animation of the profile.
Limiting air outflow using a small orifice will cause the air to compress inside the pipe and cushion
the water column collapse.

Without an air valve, sub-atmospheric pressure (such as those caused by an emergency pump
shutdown) can cause contaminants to be sucked into the system, thin-walled pipes can collapse and
also vapor pockets can form (as the water boils at such low pressures) and subsequently collapse or
damage pump impellers.

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However, you must be careful when using the air valve, since extreme high pressure surges can be
caused when the air pocket collapses. Meaning, if the air inside the air valve is expelled too quickly,
the water columns in the adjacent pipes can collide at a high velocity and the force will cause a severe
transient. This is similar to the surge that occurs when a water column slams against a closed valve,
except in this case the momentum of two water columns are hitting each other, without the delay
involved with valve closure. However, an air outlet orifice that is too small can also cause a problem, if
the air cannot escape quickly enough. So, care must be taken to select an appropriate air valve type
and size, so as not to cause worse transients than if no valve had been used. It is common to use a
"triple-acting" air valve to help against this problem, as this type of air valve throttles the size of the
outflow orifice (typically using a float.)

For example, consider the below animations, which illustrate a pump shutdown event with an air
valve at the high point. The first depicts a double acting air valve that releases air too quickly (outflow
orifice size is likely too large.) Notice the high pressure transient that occurs when the water columns
collide. The second animation depicts a triple acting air valve. Large to small outflow orifice transition
is configured in such a way that it provides a cushion that helps with the water column collision, but
also doesn't raise the pressure too much before that happens. You'll notice that the head starts to
increase when the transition to the small outflow orifice occurs, but the flow is not restricted enough
to cause this head increase to become too severe.

Double-acting with large outflow orifice

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Triple-Acting

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Inactive Air Valves


In some cases, you may want to analyze the system without the air valve. For example, you may have
a "no protection" scenario that describes the system without air valves, or a scenario where an
alternative protection approach is taken. In these scenarios, you cannot simply delete the air valve, or
even make them inactive by choosing "false" for "is active?". The reason is because every pipe must
have a node at each endpoint. You also cannot simply select "true" for the "Treat as junction?"
attribute, as this only applies to the initial conditions (Steady State or EPS).

This situation should be approached by first using dierent active topology alternatives, then using
one of two methods:

1. Place the air valves at a "tee" to the main pipeline. This way you can simply make the air valve and
adjacent pipe inactive in the scenarios where the air valves are not present. This method is easier to
manage and will account for headloss in the lateral pipe, which can sometimes be significant.

Note that the hydraulics may be slightly dierent in this "tee" approach when compared to the "in-
line" approach (option 2 below), as the air pocket will expand only on one side of the air valve as
opposed to both sides with the in-line approach. (Please also refer to the section below, "Tracking of
air pockets" regarding limitations of air pocket tracking.) Plus, the extra pipemaychange the timing
of transientwave interactions becauseit introduces a three-way junction and because it will typically
be short and therefore susceptible to having its length or wave speed significantly adjusted. (see more
on that here) With that said, the real system most likely has a tee pipe connecting between the main
and the air valve device.

2. In the scenario(s) where the air valves are not present, make the air valve and both adjacent pipes
inactive, then make a new pipe going around the air valve active. Do the opposite in the scenarios
where the air valves are present - make the air valve and adjacent pipes active but the other, single
pipe inactive. Be careful when using this approach, as friction headloss in the lateral pipe is omitted.
You may want to ensure that the bypass pipe and the pipes between the air valve and the adjacent
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junctions are long enough so as not to cause significant adjustment to the length or wave speed. (see
more on that here)

If you're not sure which approach is best, try a sensitivity analysis - try both methods and compare
the dierences in the transient response for the event you're trying to simulate. If no notable
dierence is seen in the transient response, then it may be "safe" to use the approach that is easiest
for you to manage in your model.

What if my air valve is open during the Initial


Conditions?
If you are pumping over a high point with an air valve that is open under normal operating conditions,
with some amount of part-full flow in the downstream pipe (which then resumes to pressure flow),
there are some important considerations.

As seen in thisTechNote, you can choose "false" for the "treat air valve as junction?", and the
upstream pump will "see" the high point and know to add enough head to overcome it in the initial
conditions (steady state).

When an air valve is used in the initial conditions, it is internally treated as a PSV, in order to force an
upstream pump to add enough head to keep positive pressure at the high point. Because of this, a
head loss occurs through the air valve (PSV) in order to balance energy across the network. So, you
may notice a large drop in hydraulic grade downstream of the air valve, without it being reported in
the pipe's "head loss" field. In some cases, this may cause the pressure at downstream nodes to be
negative. This situation should be interpreted as part-full flow when looking at the initial conditions.
More on this is explained in thisTechNote.

Because of the aforementioned behavior, you will have head losses and pressures that may not be
realistic. The problem is that HAMMER requires the initial conditions to be very accurate. The
equations behind HAMMER assume full-flow in pipes. Although the negative pressures seen in this
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case arent really negative, HAMMER doesnt know this. So, if the negative pressure is below the vapor
pressure limit set in your calculation options, HAMMER assumes that vapor would actually have
formed at those locations. Even if the pressure does not drop to the vapor pressure limit in the part-
full sections, you might encounter a friction loss error for the pipe.

Because of these complexities, the modeling approach must be modified in these situations in order
to do a transient analysis. (assuming of course that part flow is really expected). Meaning, the system
should be ended at the point where full flow transitions to part-full flow. It is recommended that this
be done with a reservoir, demand or Discharge-to-Atmosphere. (see item 2 in thisTechNote, under
the section titled Common Applications of the D2A acting as an orifice). This approach is typically
acceptable because the transient waves would not propagate past the air gap formed at the air valve.

Tracking of Air Pockets


HAMMER is able to track the volume of air entering the system at an air valve, but the following
assumptions/limitations apply:

- The air pocket takes up the entire cross section of the pipe
- The air pocket is localized at the point of formation (the air valve node). So, the extent of the air
pocket along the pipeline is unknown and the air-liquid interface is assumed to be at the node
location. (by default)
- The reduction in pressure-wave speed that can result from the presence of finely dispersed air or
vapor bubbles in the fluid is accounted for by configuring the Wave Speed Reduction Factor in the
calculation options.
- Air pockets entering an air valve can only exit the system through the same point. Basically it is
assumed that the pocket cannot be swept downstream and expelled elsewhere.

In most modeling cases these assumptions are acceptable and should not result in significant error. In
each case, the assumptions are made so that HAMMER's results provide conservative predictions of
extreme transient pressures. Note that since the air pocket is reported at the air valve location, you
will need to include the air valve in your profile in order to see air pockets forming in profile view. If
your air valves are on a "Tee" from the main line, you will not see air volume reported in the profile, as
the air valve element will not be directly included in the profile path.

If you need to track the location of the air-liquid interface of an air pocket entering the system (instead
of assuming it's localized at the air valve node), you can use the Extended CAV method. To do this,
select "true" for the "Run Extended CAV?" attribute, in the transient calculation options (Analysis >
Calculation Options > Transient Solver).
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When a suiciently large volume of air enters a pipeline, the flow regime evolves from hydraulic
transients to mass oscillations. Thus, at least in the vicinity of the air, the system may be represented
by rigid-column theory in lieu of the elastic approach. Using the Extended CAV option activates this
rigid (inelastic) approach. Besides improved computational eiciency, the rigid approach allows for
the tracking of the air-liquid interface. When using extended CAV, the program will automatically
switch between the regular (concentrated/elastic) and Extended (rigid) based on the percentage of
the adjacent pipe volume that the air pocket occupies.

There are two ways to observe the air/liquid interface tracking when using the Extended CAV option:

1. a. Open the Transient Analysis Output Log under Report > Transient Analysis Reports and
scroll down to the section beginning with:

*** SNAPSHOT OF EVERY END POINT AT START OF TIME STEP 2 ***

Below this table, you will find information pertaining to element statuses, including Extended CAV
air/liquid interface. For example:

At time step "4341" at CAV "Air Valve" with neighbor "J-3 ", the elevation, level and volume are:
137.000 135.361 0.966

1. Open the Transient results viewer and animate a report path including the air valve and adjacent
pipes. As the pipeline fills with air, you can observe the change in HGL downstream of the air
valve. This is the air/liquid interface:

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In some cases, the extended CAV model may not be appropriate. For example, if you have a triple
acting air valve with transition volume, it may not be appropriate since that is more of an elastic
situation. The extended CAV option is typically used when relatively large volumes of air enter the
system.

Note: the Extended CAV option will only track air volume up to the extents
of the adjacent pipe(s). In the event that the air expands greatly so that
the interface moves down towards the neighbor node to the verge of draining,
HAMMER issues a warning message, freezes the horizontal surface at the
elevation of the neighbor node, and continues to track the volume (which
could conceivably exceed the branch's volume).

Air Flow Rate Calculation


To compute the flow rate of air through the air valve element when specify the openings as equivalent
diameters, HAMMER uses the following equation:

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Where o is the density of air at 4C and 1 atmosphere (=1.293 g/l), S=0.6A, with A being the cross-
sectional area of the orifice. The throttling of air flow due to the "sonic velocity" is automatically
calculated using the below formulation:

where Y is the exponent in the gas law, p is the absolute pressure, the subscript 0 denotes standard
conditions, and p/y = constant. For air inflow, (1) is again applicable, except that the ratio within the
square brackets is inverted to be p/p0 as p0>p in this instance. the exponent, Y, in the gas law is hard-
coded as 1.4, which corresponds to adiabatic compression/expansion appropriate for the typically
rapid processes which occur. Note that "Vmax" is not the same thing as the sonic limit. Vmax is the
maximum velocity that would be achieved by a fluid when it is accelerated to absolute zero
temperature in an imaginary adiabatic expansion process. It is a term used in the calculations for air
flow rate, but the sonic limit is ~340 m/s (1115 /s) at 60 degrees F.

Note: the above is used to calculate the "free air" flow rate, at atmospheric pressure. Currently, the air
flow rate reported by HAMMER in the text reports is the flow rate at pipeline pressure, which will be
dierent due to dierences in air density.

Note: you can enter a rating curve of pressure versus air flow rate, instead of specifying an equivalent
orifice. See further below.

Air Valve Types and Attributes


General
The following attributes are available in the air valve properties, regardless of the air valve type:

"Treat Air Valve as junction" - This option specifies whether or not to treat the air valve as a junction
element during the initial conditions (steady state or EPS). When set to "false", the valve may allow
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part full flow during the initial conditions, depending on the system conditions. This is mainly used
for sewer force mains and is typically not used during a transient analysis. This setting has no eect
on the transient simulation itself. Meaning, the air valve will still function as an air valve during the
transient simulation, even if this is set to "true". Further details on this feature are beyond the scope
of this TechNote.

"Elevation" - This field identifies the elevation of the air valve. The elevation is important because it
determines the pressure at that node. It should be set to the elevation of the opening of the actual
valve. When the hydraulic grade at the air valve location drops below the air valve's elevation, air
intake starts to occur, since the pressure at that node would then be below zero.

"Report Period" - entering a number in this field will allow HAMMER to report extended results for
the air valve. For example, a report period of '10' would cause extended results to be reported every
10 time steps. so, if the calculation time step was 0.01 seconds, that means you will see these results
at a 0.1 second interval. To view these extended results a er computing the transient simulation, go
to Report > Transient Analysis Reports > Transient Analysis Detailed Report. Scroll down almost to the
bottom, to the section beginning with " ** Air valve at node Air Valve**". Below this, you will see a
table of time, air volume, head, air mass and air outflow rate. Note that the flow rate shown here is the
flow rate at pipeline pressure, which will be dierent than the "free air" flow rate, due to dierences in
air density.

"Air Volume (initial)" - This field is available when using either the Double Acting or Triple Acting air
valve type. It is used when modeling an air valve that is initially open. Like the "Treat air valve as
junction?" attribute, this is rarely used. Intuitively, the initial conditions pressure must be zero in this
case (air valve is open), and the air present inside the air valve is entered in this field. This might occur
at a high point that operates under part-full flow in normal conditions (when the pump is on.)

"Air valve type" - This is where you specify which type of air valve will be used during the transient
simulation. Details on how each type works and their corresponding input parameters are found
below.

"Air Flow Calculation Method" - This allows you to specify whether the air flow rate calculation is
determined by a user-entered rating curve or calculated based on an equivalent orifice diameter.

Double Acting
With the double acting air valve, both inflow and outflow orifices are available. The diameters of these
orifices don't change and there are two dierent actions:

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1. Air inflow through the inflow orifice diameter


2. Air outflow through the outflow orifice diameter

"Air Volume (Initial)" - The volume of air inside the air valve at the start of the simulation. If you need
to enter a value here, then the pressure from the initial conditions must be zero (i.e., the air valve is
open). This would only be used if you wanted to model an air valve that is open during the initial
conditions, which is not typical. In most cases involving a pump, it is easier to begin the simulation
with the pump on, then have the pump shut down and subsequently restart a er an appropriate
length of time, using the variable speed transient pump type.

"Diameter (Air Inflow Orifice)" - This is the diameter of the orifice for injection of air into the
pipeline. This diameter should be large enough to allow the free entry of air into the pipeline. As of
version 10.00.00.50, if the air inflow orifice diameter is set to zero, an air pocket can still form (it
models neither a zero diameter nor an infinite diameter, currently). This is an unlikely condition, so it
is not advisable to use a zero diameter inflow orifice size.

"Diameter (Air Outflow Orifice)" - This is the diameter of the orifice that allows discharge of air out
of the air valve, upon increase in pipeline pressure. It should be small enough to throttle the air flow
and cushion the speed of the air pocket collapse. If set to zero, the air valve will act like a vacuum
breaker type, in that no air can be released and the trapped air pocket will be compressed.

Triple Acting
This air valve type is used to model a triple acting air valve, which has an air inflow orifice at a fixed
size and a variable-diameter air outflow orifice. Typically a float is used to decrease the orifice size,
just before the air pocket is completely expelled.

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There are three dierent actions:

1. Air Inflow
2. Air Outflow through the large orifice
3. Air Outflow through the small orifice

When the air valve opens, air inflow comes in through the inflow diameter. When pressure returns, air
escapes out of the large diameter outflow orifice. Just before all of the air has escaped, the float is
pushed up, which decreases the diameter of the outflow orifice down to the "small" value. This
cushions the air pocket collapse and subsequent collision of the water columns.

"Diameter (Air Inflow Orifice)" - This is the diameter of the orifice for injection of air into the
pipeline. This diameter should be large enough to allow the free entry of air into the pipeline.As of
version 10.00.00.50, if the air inflow orifice diameter is set to zero, an air pocket can still form (it
models neither a zero diameter nor an infinite diameter, currently). This is an unlikely condition, so it
is not advisable to use a zero diameter inflow orifice size.

"Diameter (Large Air Outflow Orifice)" - This is the diameter of the outflow orifice when the float is
at the lowest position. It is the size of the orifice when the air volume inside the air valve is greater
than or equal to the transition volume or when the air pressure is less than or equal to the transition
pressure (depending on the method you selected to trigger the switch from large to small outflow
orifice).

"Diameter (Small Air Outflow Orifice)" - This is the diameter of the outflow orifice when the float is
at the highest position. It is the size of the orifice when the air volume inside the valve is less than the
transition volume or when the air pressure is greater than the transition pressure. (depending on the
selected method)

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"Trigger to Switch Outflow Orifice Size" - You can choose to have the triple-acting air valve switch
from the large to the small outflow orifice size based on a transition pressure or a transition volume.
When selecting "Transition Volume", a "Transition Volume" input field is available and when selecting
"Transition Pressure", a "Transition Pressure" field becomes available.

"Transition Volume" - If you're using the transition volume option, this is the Volume of air between
the lowest and highest position of the float. (The amount it can change) Basically it is the volume of
air le in the system when the water starts to raise the float to decrease the orifice size. It is usually
approximated as the volume of the body of the valve.

"Transition Pressure" - If you're using the transition pressure option, this is the pressure at the air
valve location (i.e. the HGL minus the elevation) above which the outflow orifice switches from the
large to the small size.

Note: typically in real life it actually takes a small amount of time to


transition from the large to the small orifice diameter, but it is generally
pretty quick so we model it as instantaneous. Meaning, the diameter
decreases to the "small" value, as soon as the volume of air is less than
the "transition volume", or as soon as the pressure is greater than the
"transition pressure" (depending on the method you selected.)

Not all triple-acting air valves trigger the outflow orifice transition
based on a transition volume or pressure. For example, it may be based on
velocity. In these cases, you will need to determine the air volume or
system pressure at the air valve, at the time when your conditions is met.
Start by setting the small outflow orifice diameter equal to the large, then
enter a number in the "report period" field. After computing the transient
simulation, open the transient analysis detailed report from the Report menu
and scroll down to the bottom. You will see a table of air flow rate, air
volume, pressure, etc over time, which you can use to determine this.

Vacuum Breaker
With the vacuum breaker air valve type, only the air inflow orifice diameter needs to be configured.
This air valve type lets air into the system during sub-atmospheric pressure, but assumes the outflow
diameter is very small (eectively zero) so it doesn't let air out. You will see the air volume change as
the air pocket is compressed, but the mass of air in the pipe doesn't reduce. There is probably a very
limited number of applications for this type valve. However, it could be used for a draining pipeline.

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Note: any air pocket left in the system due to a vacuum breaker valve is
assumed to be expelled out of the system by some other means. HAMMER
currently cannot track the behavior of these trapped air pockets (the
underlying assumption is that the air must exit the system where it came
in)

"Diameter (Air Inflow Orifice)" - This is the diameter of the orifice for injection of air into the
pipeline. This diameter should be large enough to allow the free entry of air into the pipeline.

Slow Closing
Although similar to the other air valve types, the slow-closing air valve only has a single orifice
involved; for the expulsion of air and liquid. An air inflow orifice is not required because HAMMER
assumes that air will be freely allowed into the system (no throttling) when the head drops below the
air valve elevation. The valve starts to close linearly with respect to area only when air begins to exit
from the pipeline (a er the head begins to rise).

It is possible for liquid to be discharged through this valve for a period a er the air has been expelled,
unlike the other air valve types, which closes when all the air has been evacuated from the pipeline.
Typically you will want the valve to be fully closed a er all air has been expelled, but before too much
water has been expelled.

"Diameter (Air Outflow Orifice)" - This is the diameter of the orifice that allows discharge of air out
of the air valve, upon increase in pipeline pressure. It should be small enough to throttle the air flow
and cushion the speed of the air pocket collapse.

Note: there are many other advanced air valves that work dierently than the types currently
available in HAMMER (some work on flow rate), but they are not yet supported. A conservative
approximation using one of the available types should normally suice in this case. Future versions of
HAMMER may allow the user to enter a custom pressure versus air flow rating table.

Using a Custom Air Flow Curve


Traditionally, the openings for air flow into and out of an air valve are specified in terms of an
equivalent diameter. As of V8i SELECTseries 2 (08.11.02.31) you can now specify a pressure vs. air flow
rating curve for any of the openings, instead of an equivalent orifice.

This is convenient in cases where the manufacturer provides a rating curve instead of orifice sizes
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Positive flows and pressures should be entered for outflow and negative flows and pressures
should be entered for inflow.
Air valve rating curves can be stored in a new air flow curve engineering library (some example
data is included)
Note that the flow rates entered here are the "free air" flow rates, at atmospheric pressure.
Currently, the air flow rate reported by HAMMER in the text reports is the flow rate at pipeline
pressure, which will be dierent due to dierences in air density.

Example Model
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The below model is an example of the use of the air valve element in HAMMER and has several
scenarios for dierent configurations. Note:

This example is included in recent versions of HAMMER, in the "Samples" folder within the
installation folder
The link below is to a version that can be opened in HAMMER V8i build 08.11.00.30 and above.
Additional information can be found in the Project Properties
You must be signed in to download the file. The link will not work if you are not signed in.
This model is for illustrative purposes only

Click to Download

See Also
How to graph extended transient results such as gas volume for hydropneumatic tanks, pump or
turbine speed, air valve extended data, etc.

Protective Equipment FAQ

General HAMMER V8i FAQ

AWWA Book: M51 Air Valves: Air Release, Air/Vacuum, and Combination, Second Edition

ARI Air Valves (contains many animations)

Air Valves HAMMER Combination Air Valve transients TechNote

reviewed2017 CAV Haestad Methods Transient Analysis

Created by Jesse Dringoli


When: Sat, Jul 4 2009 5:18 PM
Last revision by Jesse Dringoli
When: Mon, Jul 31 2017 12:44 PM
Revisions: 47
Comments: 0

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29/09/2017 Modeling Reference - Air Valves - Haestad | Hydraulics and Hydrology Wiki - Haestad | Hydraulics and Hydrology - Bentley Communities

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