American Society of Civil Engineers

Detection and Location of a Partial Blockage in a Pipeline using Damping of Fluid Transients

by Xiao-Jian Wang, (corresponding author), (Proj. Engr., Tonkin Consulting, 5 Cooke Ter., Wayville, SA 5034, Australia E-mail:, Martin F. Lambert, (Assoc. Prof., Centre for Appl. Modeling in Water Engrg., School of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Univ. of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia. E-mail:, and Angus R. Simpson, M.ASCE, (Assoc. Prof., Centre for Appl. Modelling in Water Engrg., School of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Univ. of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia. E-mail:

Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Vol. 131, No. 3, May/June 2005, pp. 244-249, (doi:

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Document type: Technical Note
Abstract: The effects of a partial blockage on pipeline transients are investigated analytically. A partial blockage is simulated using an orifice equation, and the influence of the blockage on the unsteady pipe flow is considered in the governing equations using a Dirac delta function. A simplified, linear dimensionless governing equation has been derived, and an analytical solution expressed in terms of a Fourier series has been developed under nonvarying boundary conditions. The linear analysis indicates that pipe friction and a partial blockage both introduce damping on fluid transients. The friction damping and blockage damping are exponential for each of the individual harmonic components. For each individual harmonic component, the blockage-induced damping depends on the blockage magnitude and position and is also independent of measurement location and the transient event. A new blockage detection method using the blockage-induced transient damping is developed based on the analytical solution. The magnitude of the blockage-induced damping rate indicates the size of the blockage, and the ratios of different damping rates can be used to locate the blockage. The proposed blockage detection method has been successfully used in detecting, locating, and quantifying a pipe blockage based on laboratory experiments.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Water pipelines
Hydraulic transients