Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Scott A. Yost

Second Advisor

Dr. James M. McDonough


During intense rain events a stormwater system can fill rapidly and undergo a transition from open channel flow to pressurized flow. This transition can create large discrete pockets of trapped air in the system. These pockets are pressurized in the horizontal reaches of the system and then are released through vertical vents. In extreme cases, the transition and release of air pockets can create a geyser feature.

The current models are inadequate for simulating mixed flows with complicated air-water interactions, such as geysers. Additionally, the simulation of air escaping in the vertical dropshaft is greatly simplified, or completely ignored, in the existing models.

In this work a two-phase numerical model solving the Navier-Stokes equations is developed to investigate the key factors that form geysers. A projection method is used to solve the Navier-Stokes Equation. An advanced two-phase flow model, Volume of Fluid (VOF), is implemented in the Navier-Stokes solver to capture and advance the interface.

This model has been validated with standard two-phase flow test problems that involve significant interface topology changes, air entrainment and violent free surface motion. The results demonstrate the capability of handling complicated two-phase interactions. The numerical results are compared with experimental data and theoretical solutions. The comparisons consistently show satisfactory performance of the model.

The model is applied to a real stormwater system and accurately simulates the pressurization process in a horizontal channel. The two-phase model is applied to simulate air pockets rising and release motion in a vertical riser. The numerical model demonstrates the dominant factors that contribute to geyser formation, including air pocket size, pressurization of main pipe and surcharged state in the vertical riser. It captures the key dynamics of two-phase flow in the vertical riser, consistent with experimental results, suggesting that the code has an excellent potential of extending its use to practical applications.