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Municipal and Industrial Water Systems

In the water and wastewater industries, FLOW-3D is used to design pump stations, treatment plant headworks, primary settling tanks, combined sewer overflows, filter systems, and more.

This is a model of a chlorine contact tank for a water treatment plant. Chlorine concentration is shown volumetrically alongside dynamic plots of concentration C(t) over time and change in concentration per unit time E(t) at a sampling station. Simulation postprocessed with FlowSight, coming soon in FLOW-3D v11.

CFD Municipal Projects

FLOW-3D has been used extensively to aid in the design of upgrades to existing treatment facilities and to design innovative new facilities. For example, FLOW-3D was used to improve the overall design of a wastewater treatment facility in the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. Other work has also been carried out for the DC Water and Sewer Authority and the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners.

Related links:

Batch Sedimentation: A Two-phase Flow Validation Example
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign models grit chambers using FLOW-3D
Earth Tech Improves the Design of Wastewater Treatment Plant

Using FLOW-3D to Improve Clarifier Performance

FLOW-3D Simulation Helps Prevent Nitrification of Water Storage Reservoir


settling tank FLOW-3D simulation
Settling tank performance depends
on uniform flow balance. The results
of this FLOW-3D simulation indicate
residual short-circuiting. (Analysis:
Blue Hill Hydraulics

water storage tank CFD simulation
2D view of water storage tank, flow
colored by disinfectant concentration.
(Analysis: Inca Engineering)

reservoir design CFD example
FLOW-3D can help evaluate
storage reservoir circulation.
(Analysis: Blue Hill Hydraulics)

diffuser CFD example
FLOW-3D can be used to study
turbulent mixing and transport.
(Analysis: Blue Hill Hydraulics)

Grit chamber modeling

Shear velocity distribution along
feeding tunnel and distributor.

Settling Tanks

Effective separation of solids in settling tanks can require the use of baffles to slow and distribute flow, thus providing the best use of the treatment volume within a tank. If the tank is open to the environment, high winds can generate strong currents that can re-suspend solids and reduce the tank’s capture efficiency. FLOW-3D has the ability to simulate the flow through the tank as it is affected by its shape, the settling of solids and the effects of wind on the water’s surface.


Water storage reservoir systems using chloramines as disinfectants must avoid dead spots in reservoirs so that the disinfectant does not break down into nitrites and nitrates, which encourage the growth of bacteria. FLOW-3D has been used by cities to optimize the mixing systems so that the potential for such dead spots is minimized.


FLOW-3D is an effective, efficient tool which has been used extensively to assist in the design of contact tanks. Complex inlet designs and unusual tank configurations can be modeled in three-dimensions and FLOW-3D can be used to compute Residence Time Distribution curves (RTD or break-through curves), which can be used to assess residence time parameters and to estimate the residual levels of disinfection chemicals required to meet consumer protection standards.

Reservoir Design

Numerical "dye testing" with FLOW-3D can help evaluate the performance of proposed reservoir designs and the degree of enhancement to be expected from modifications made to existing reservoirs.


Diffuser performance is affected by near-field flow patterns and their interaction with diffuser flows. FLOW-3D can be used to study near-field mixing and far-field transport problems. Analyses with FLOW-3D can account for temperature related buoyancy and turbulent mixing.

Grit Chambers

Non-uniform distribution of grit among tanks can have an adverse impact on performance of grit chambers within water reclamation plants. FLOW-3D can be used to study the hydrodynamics of the distribution system and improve the balance of flows to maximize plant performance.