iCFD: Interpreted Computational Fluid Dynamics – Degeneration of CFD to one-dimensional advection-dispersion models using statistical experimental design – The secondary clarifier

Estelle Guyonvarch, Elham Ramin, Murat Kulahci, Benedek G. Plósz

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The present study aims at using statistically designed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations as numerical experiments for the identification of one-dimensional (1-D) advection-dispersion models – computationally light tools, used e.g., as sub-models in systems analysis. The objective is to develop a new 1-D framework, referred to as interpreted CFD (iCFD) models, in which statistical meta-models are used to calculate the pseudo-dispersion coefficient (D) as a function of design and flow boundary conditions. The method – presented in a straightforward and transparent way – is illustrated using the example of a circular secondary settling tank (SST). First, the significant design and flow factors are screened out by applying the statistical method of two-level fractional factorial design of experiments. Second, based on the number of significant factors identified through the factor screening study and system understanding, 50 different sets of design and flow conditions are selected using Latin Hypercube Sampling (LHS). The boundary condition sets are imposed on a 2-D axi-symmetrical CFD simulation model of the SST. In the framework, to degenerate the 2-D model structure, CFD model outputs are approximated by the 1-D model through the calibration of three different model structures for D. Correlation equations for the D parameter then are identified as a function of the selected design and flow boundary conditions (meta-models), and their accuracy is evaluated against D values estimated in each numerical experiment. The evaluation and validation of the iCFD model structure is carried out using scenario simulation results obtained with parameters sampled from the corners of the LHS experimental region. For the studied SST, additional iCFD model development was carried out in terms of (i) assessing different density current sub-models; (ii) implementation of a combined flocculation, hindered, transient and compression settling velocity function; and (iii) assessment of modelling the onset of transient and compression settling. Furthermore, the optimal level of model discretization both in 2-D and 1-D was undertaken. Results suggest that the iCFD model developed for the SST through the proposed methodology is able to predict solid distribution with high accuracy – taking a reasonable computational effort – when compared to multi-dimensional numerical experiments, under a wide range of flow and design conditions. iCFD tools could play a crucial role in reliably predicting systems' performance under normal and shock events.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Pages (from-to)396-411
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)
  • One-dimensional advection dispersion model
  • Interpreted CFD model (iCFD)
  • Statistical factor screening
  • Degeneration of model structural complexity
  • Secondary settling tank


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