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How Autodesk pioneers water hammer analysis and mitigation

Today, Wednesday, February 21st, Autodesk Water, in collaboration with Smart Water Magazine, held the first webinar of a webinar series aimed at uniting experts in the water industry by spotlighting cutting-edge methods and proven strategies for elevating water management practices, including combatting flooding, resolving network leakage and harnessing the potential of digital twins. The series provides an unparalleled insight into the evolving trends, challenges, and opportunities shaping the future of our interaction with the planet's most indispensable resource.

This first webinar: “Water hammer in water systems: analyse and mitigate using Autodesk’s Water solutions”, was dedicated to the phenomenon of water hammer in water systems. Hydraulic transients, commonly known as water hammer, pose a serious threat to water distribution systems, as they can cause catastrophic pipe bursts. This is why understanding their causes and exploring the various strategies for their mitigation is of the utmost importance. The online seminar also introduced how Autodesk's solutions for hydraulic modelling can be used for water hammer analysis and mitigation within a comprehensive water management framework.

If you missed the webinar, you may now watch it on-demand.

Cristina Novo, Technical Editor at Smart Water Magazine, introduced the online seminar and highlighted the relevance of an initiative such as the Autodesk Water webinar series, which serves as a platform for collaboration and exploration with a focus on meeting the needs of the water utility sector. The global water industry is projected to require an investment of approximately 1.9 trillion dollars by 2030. This figure underscores not just the scale of the challenge but also its immense opportunity. In the face of these challenges, digital technology emerges as a transformative force, offering new tools for more efficient and effective water management. She pointed out that Autodesk stands at the forefront of this transformation, leveraging its expertise in design and construction together with advanced hydrological modelling technologies.

Introducing Autodesk Water

Autodesk Water, boasting a rich legacy in pioneering cutting-edge software for the industry, is dedicated to crafting solutions that promote enhanced efficiency and sustainability in water utilization. The firm equips the water and wastewater industry with the solutions needed to make the best decisions possible at every stage of a water asset’s lifecycle. Youssef Al Fahham, Technical Marketing Manager, began his presentation by introducing Autodesk Water, a company which in 2021 bought Oregon-based Innovyze, a global leader in water infrastructure software. Thanks to this purchase, the Autodesk portfolio in water grew exponentially and is now known in the market as Autodesk Water. He underscored that the firm’s water modelling solutions are used by thousands of customers in more than 60 countries, especially by large municipalities, utilities and councils globally. Taking a closer look at Autodesk’s water solutions, Al Fahham said that there were two main pillars: the first consists of desktop solutions and the second is cloud solutions.

What is water hammer?

This transient state happens due to any change in velocity in your piping system

Next, Youssef Al Fahham explained in detail what the water hammer phenomenon is. This occurrence is also known as pressure surge, hydraulic transient or hydraulic shock. It emerges when a fluid, typically liquid though occasionally gas, experiences an abrupt halt or redirection in its motion, which is known as a transient state. This occurrence is frequent when a valve abruptly shuts within a pipeline network, instigating the propagation of a pressure wave through the conduit. “This transient state happens due to any change in velocity in your piping system,” explained Youssef. Simply said: water hammer is a state between the initial and the final state. This state can cause a positive high-pressure wave or a negative low-pressure wave. Youssef went on to explain that water hammer analysis is extremely important, as this phenomenon, as we mentioned earlier, can cause significant damage, such as pipeline rupture, deforming the pipes permanently or environmental contamination. There are two common ways to analyse the pipes: the famous hand calculation Joukowsky equation and the second way is with hydraulic modelling. “The benefit is you can overcome simplification that exists with the Joukowsky equation.”

Autodesk’s hydraulic modelling solutions

Al Fahham then gave way to his colleague Rebecca Willey, Technical Solutions Engineer, who started by sharing with the public what hydraulic modelling is. According to this expert, it is a representation of a system and is a tool that helps tackle these challenges by enabling a greater understanding of how all sources will impact our systems; how our systems will respond to varying conditions; and how different elements will interact with one another. This gave way to introduce Autodesk Water’s two hydraulic modelling tools, which she described in detail, highlighting that most importantly, the two solutions included water hammer.  

  • Autodesk InfoWater Pro: This hydraulic modelling application built in ArcGIS Pro allows users to simulate countless scenarios and perform a wide range of analyses, including fire flow, valve criticality, pipe break, water quality, system curves, and energy usage.
  • Autodesk InforWorks WS Pro: This solution is a standalone solution with a collaborative multi-user environment and an advanced hydraulic analysis engine. It is used by water utility engineers who manage water distribution systems aiming to provide a safe and reliable drinking water supply, and water resources engineering consultants who perform distribution system calibration and master plan modelling projects.

Willey stressed that as we enter a world of drought and more increased water loss, we need as much water as possible, making hydraulic modelling solutions vital. These ensure the effective and efficient operation of water distribution, stormwater, and wastewater networks, predicting the behaviour of water in natural and engineered systems. 

Autodesk not only offers various cutting-edge hydraulic modelling solutions, but it also allows users free on-demand training for all the company’s products, including a water hammer specific course.

Autodesk not only offers various cutting-edge hydraulic modelling solutions, but it also allows users free on-demand training for all the company’s products

Willey concluded by highlighting that Autodesk’s solutions have water hammer analysis and mitigating tools included and that users can start straight away, without the need to skeletonize and change UI. Moreover, the two applications offer easy windows for surge replication and have built-in devices to help speed up the design process.

Finally, the webinar concluded with a block of questions from the audience. Most of them focused on technical issues regarding Autodesk’s two solutions, which were answered by the two speakers in detail.

This first webinar marked the beginning of an exciting journey into smart water management. As we saw today, the challenges facing our water resources are significant, but so too are the opportunities presented by innovative technologies and forward-thinking strategies. Throughout this webinar series, we will delve deeper into various aspects of water management, looking at case studies, best practices, and emerging trends. Stay tuned!