The assignee for this patent, patent number 8639483, is
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This invention relates to computer models for analyzing the hydraulics and reliability of water distribution systems.
"Water distribution systems are expected to provide water virtually all of the time in spite of failures in individual components in the system. Thus, efforts have been made to quantify and increase the reliability of such systems. There are several ways of increasing reliability including looping pipes, including thicker walled pipes, providing standby power for pumps, improving operator training, installing additional system storage, segmenting the system and providing adequate valves to isolate small areas of the system. Failing to make one or more of these improvements may determine whether a minor outage turns into a major system failure.
"Another priority goal in any water distribution system in a community is to provide adequate fire flow. A further challenge is to provide water distribution to growing neighborhoods, which may not have been part of an early plan and may not have adequate distribution pipes. In order to design, repair and evaluate water distribution systems in view of the above-described dynamic aspects of those systems, water engineers use hydraulic models, which are computer models that describe the network elements and simulate the operation of the water distribution network, and can be used to assess the reliability of such distribution systems.
"Portions of a water distribution system need to be taken out of service from time to time for maintenance and repairs. The portion of the system that is taken out of service is limited by the placement of isolating valves. More specifically, isolating valves allow a segment of a water distribution system to be sectioned off, while still providing water supply to customers through the remainder of the network. The higher the density of isolating valves, the fewer customers who are put out of service and the smaller the impact on the overall system operation. A tradeoff exists between the number of valves in a system, and the cost. It is noted, however, typically when a pipe line fails, a 'segment' of the distribution system is affected, as is defined by the portion of the system that can be isolated using isolation valves.
"Many water distribution network computer modeling programs present the system as a set of links (pipes) and nodes (junctions of pipes). In order to simulate a pipe outage, the modeler will remove a link from the model. However, an outage actually removes an entire distribution segment, which is defined by the valves that can be used to isolate the outage, not simply one pipe link. Conventional software models require segmentation outages to be performed manually. In such systems, the location of isolating valves within the system is not always readily apparent to the user.
"Such prior modeling programs contain elements like pipes, junctions, pumps and the like. But these elements are not appropriate for performing a criticality analysis because a shut down of some portion of the water system does not affect a single one of those elements or even a set of them, but rather a collection of elements and importantly, parts of such elements. The various approaches that exist to identify critical outage segments of a water distribution system do not take into account the location of isolation valves. This failure to precisely to account for isolation valve locations generates misleading results. In addition, isolating valves are typically not treated as junction nodes in models, and thus they are difficult to locate within the model.
"Moreover, segmentation of the network has presented a problem for hydraulic models because, as noted, segments do not correspond directly to pipe links. In fact, a segment almost rarely consists of an entire single pipe link, but rather some collection of pieces of pipe links. Therefore, working with segments requires a different network topology in the model than pipe network analysis alone.
"Therefore, there remains a need for a hydraulic model software program that can be readily implemented within a computer hydraulic model platform which program stores isolating valve elements at their correct locations along pipes in the model. There remains a further need for method for automatic generation of segments and a system for correctly identifying the impact of loss of such a segment, thereby identifying the criticality of such a segment."
In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The disadvantages of prior techniques are overcome by the present invention which is a new component that can be incorporated into an existing computer program for modeling a water distribution system that analyzes the criticality of elements in a water distribution system based on the ability to isolate segments. The criticality process operates in conjunction with a hydraulic modeling platform computer program. The hydraulic modeling platform contains information about the water distribution system, such as pipes, junction nodes, pumps, storage tanks, and, in accordance with the present invention, it also contains information about isolating valves, and uses isolating valves as elements that can be represented in the module.
"In accordance with a first aspect of the invention, a segmentation routine identifies segments based on the position of such isolating valves and other elements, such as control valves, which the user can identify as isolating elements. The routine uses graph theory to search out the components and bounding elements for each segment. This can be done for the entire system or for a portion of the system as identified by the user. In accordance with the invention, a graphic user interface allows the user to use a segment routine to color code the map of the system so that each segment can be readily visualized. The segmentation routine itself can be used to characterize troublesome segments which could become critical segments should an outage occur.
"In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, a criticality process quantifies the impact of shutting down each segment of the system. The criticality of the segment is based on the short fall that results upon an outage of that segment, where short fall is calculated using functions related to the ratio of actual demand satisfied to total demand. Several metrics can be used to identify the short fall of segments in accordance with the invention. These include whether the short fall is based on connectivity only or on hydraulic analysis. Further, the software program of the present invention allows the user to choose whether a hydraulic analysis is based on the steady state or an extended period simulation. The software program of the present invention also provides the user the choice of whether to evaluate pressure dependant demands or fixed demands in the hydraulic calculation. Various scenarios can be selected by the user and the simulation is run to determine the impact of segment outage under these scenarios which thereby indicates the criticality of the selected segments in the water distribution system. The results of the criticality calculation can be displayed in a user interface that can readily show the impact of the outage of a particular segment. Summary statistics on the reliability of the distribution as a whole are also be provided in accordance with the invention, and reported in an easy to use screen for a computer work station."
For more information, see this patent: Walski, Thomas M.; Mankowski, Robert F.; Yang, Shaoyu; Cook, Jr., Jack S.; Wang, Ronghe; Bishop, Daniel; Bowdler, Daniel; Wu, Zheng Yi; Gurrieri, Robert A..
Keywords for this news article include: Software,
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