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Simulation of pipeline networks

Operators and investors

Pipe networks can be found where operating resources, in particular, such as heating steam, cooling water, cooling brine or cold water etc. needs to be supplied to several system components in production systems. The operating resource consumers then obtain the respective operating resource from a joint network.

Flue gas or exhaust air flows are also often collected from several parts and areas of the plant over a network of pipes and then sent for cleaning.

Different volume flows prevail in the individual branches of these pipe systems, which generate a certain pressure drop across the respective pipeline. An equilibrium is established in the entire system as long as the volume flows are constant.

However, if there is a noticeable change at one point, e.g. a sudden withdrawal of a large amount of cooling water from the cooling water pipe network, a corresponding change in pressure will take place at this point. Because all the pipes are connected to one another, this change will also affect the entire pipe network. The pressure drop can cause a heat exchanger located high up in the system to no longer be adequately supplied with cooling water.

The other way around, undesirable effects can take place in existing exhaust air systems if, for example, large additional storage tanks are connected. Especially in midsummer and when the tanks are filled with raw products from tankers, the volume flow displaced from the tank can be so great that the existing exhaust air line generates a pressure drop that triggers the overpressure protection in the tank. Depending on the medium stored, highly undesirable substances can be released into the atmosphere as a result.

The cases described show that every expansion and/or increase in capacity in a process plant can have a significant impact on ancillary installations, such as exhaust air or operating resource systems. The effects can impact upon neighbouring areas of the plant and lead to considerable disruptions in operations in the process.

Simulation is the method of choice for gaining advance knowledge of how an intervention will affect an existing network. Modern systems are capable of representing a pipe network. To do so, the individual pipes in the network need to be configured in a system and connected to one another. Components including valves, pressure generators etc. can also be defined and added.

The components in the pipe network can then be selected from the internal material database. The process parameters are generally defined then as well.

The simulation enables weak points in the system to be identified and measures for remediation to be determined.


  • Inclusion of the pipeline network based on existing plans and isometrics with transfer to the simulation program
  • Simulation of existing and new control strategies
  • Determination of the individual volume flows and pressure drops in the system
  • Identification of vulnerabilities
  • Elaboration of possible adjustments in the pipeline network

Our Team

Foto von Manfred Wientjes der Horst Weyer und Partner gmbh

Dr. Florian Merkel

horst weyer und partner