TWO-PHASE FLUID FLOW
Both the flow oscillations and flow reversals lead to a very unstable condition since the steam
blankets formed on heated surfaces directly affect the ability to transfer heat away from those
If a pipe were to rupture, the reaction force created by the high velocity fluid jet could cause the
piping to displace and cause extensive damage to components, instrumentation, and equipment
in the area of the rupture. This characteristic is similar to an unattended garden hose or fire hose
"whipping" about unpredictably. This type of failure is analyzed to minimize damage if pipe
whip were to occur in the vicinity of safety-related equipment.
Water hammer is a liquid shock wave resulting from the sudden starting or stopping of flow.
It is affected by the initial system pressure, the density of the fluid, the speed of sound in the
fluid, the elasticity of the fluid and pipe, the change in velocity of the fluid, the diameter and
thickness of the pipe, and the valve operating time.
During the closing of a valve, kinetic energy of the moving fluid is converted into potential
energy. Elasticity of the fluid and pipe wall produces a wave of positive pressure back toward
the fluids source. When this wave reaches the source, the mass of fluid will be at rest, but
under tremendous pressure. The compressed liquid and stretched pipe walls will now start to
release the liquid in the pipe back to the source and return to the static pressure of the source.
This release of energy will form another pressure wave back to the valve. When this shockwave
reaches the valve, due to the momentum of the fluid, the pipe wall will begin to contract. This
contraction is transmitted back to the source, which places the pressure in the piping below that
of the static pressure of the source. These pressure waves will travel back and forth several times
until the fluid friction dampens the alternating pressure waves to the static pressure of the source.
Normally, the entire hammer process takes place in under one second.
The initial shock of suddenly stopped flow can induce transient pressure changes that exceed the
static pressure. If the valve is closed slowly, the loss of kinetic energy is gradual. If it is closed
quickly, the loss of kinetic energy is very rapid. A shock wave results because of this rapid loss
of kinetic energy. The shock wave caused by water hammer can be of sufficient magnitude to
cause physical damage to piping, equipment, and personnel. Water hammer in pipes has been
known to pull pipe supports from their mounts, rupture piping, and cause pipe whip.
A pressure spike is the resulting rapid rise in pressure above static pressure caused by water
hammer. The highest pressure spike attained will be at the instant the flow changed and is
governed by the following equation.