American Society of Civil Engineers

Valve Design for Extracting Response Functions from Hydraulic Systems Using Pseudorandom Binary Signals

by Pedro J. Lee, (Lectuer, Dept. of Civ. and Natural Resour. Engrg., Coll. of Engrg., Univ. of Canterbury, Private 4800, Christchurch 8020, New Zealand. E-mail:, John P. Vı´tkovsky, (Hydro., Water Assessment Group, Dept. of Natural Resour. and Water, Queensland Government, Indooroopilly QLD 4068, Australia. E-mail:, Martin F. Lambert, (corresponding author), (Assoc. Prof., School of Civ., Envir. Engrg., and Mining Engrg., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Univ. of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005, Australia E-mail:, and Angus R. Simpson, (Prof., School of Civ., Envir., and Mining Engrg., Dept. of Civ. & Envir. Engrg., The Univ. of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005, Australia. E-mail:

Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, Vol. 134, No. 6, June 2008, pp. 858-864, (doi:

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Document type: Technical Note
Abstract: The analysis of the dynamic response of a pressurized water pipeline system is important for the design and also the integrity monitoring of these systems. An efficient method for summarizing the behavior of a pipeline system is through the determination of their system response functions. These functions can be extracted by injecting a pressure signal with a wide bandwidth that persists over the length of a pipeline system. Unlike electrical and mechanical systems, generating such signals in pressurized water systems is difficult. Valves capable of generating a signal against the system back-pressure often lack the necessary maneuverability to ensure the signal is sharp (and hence with high-frequency content) and the generated transient is often large in amplitude, risking damage to the system. A method for generating a small amplitude transient signal with a wide band of frequencies is desirable. This paper presents the design for a side discharge valve for generating a pseudorandom binary sequence of pressure changes that are of a small magnitude in relation to the steady state head of the pipeline. The pseudorandom pressure sequence is used to provide an estimate of the system response function. The continuous form of the signal allows the amplitude of each individual pulse within the signal to be small while maintaining the same signal bandwidth. The valve has been tested experimentally and was found to provide a good match with the theoretical response of the pipeline. The method provides a practical alternative to frequency sweeping using sinusoidal signals or sharp valve closures for the extraction of the response functions. Once determined, the system response function can be utilized to detect system faults such as leaks and blockages.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Pressure measurement
Transfer functions
Transient flow
Water pipelines