Air flow model development and application in a complex combined sewer system

Water Sci Technol. 2020 Oct;82(8):1687-1700. doi: 10.2166/wst.2020.430.


A steady-state air flow model was developed and applied in a complex combined sewer system in the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The model solves the continuity at each junction and the momentum equation for the links coupled with dropshaft and other manholes. The dropshaft pressure gradient is computed using the dropshaft equation and air flow rate through manhole pickholes is computed considering the opening as an orifice. A leakage factor is used as a calibration parameter to represent the area through which air can leak from the manholes into the neighborhood. The model uses an iterative solution algorithm with a forward sweep for the continuity and backward sweep for the momentum equation. An underrelaxation is applied to update pressure in each iteration for model stability. The model was calibrated and validated by using the measured air flow rate and manhole pressure in the sewer network, with good results. An analysis of the air flow characteristics shows that a significant amount of air is brought into the system due to a large headspace in the upstream trunk but over 70% of this air is released into the neighborhood due to reduced headspace in the downstream trunk.

MeSH terms

  • Alberta
  • Cities
  • Models, Theoretical*