Modeling and hydraulic performance evaluation of a dripper device coupled to a branched water distribution network

Abstract Irrigation is responsible for approximately 70% of the world’s freshwater consumption and is one of the key factors behind the growing global water scarcity. Irrigation systems and techniques are extremely differentiated and complex. In this context, tools of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) earn relevance, allowing a detailed analysis and forecast of hydraulic behavior in different situations. In order to evaluate flow details in a dripper, this study applies CFD tools to study a drip irrigation system from three different perspectives: (i) analysis of the complete system of piping and dripper; (ii) analysis of only the isolated dripper expanded and biphasic model; and (iii) analysis of the isolated dripper operating in transient regime. Modeling results allowed a full understanding about speed fields, pressure and friction loss along the geometry. The drop formation process in the dripper output could be displayed in detail, and the obtained dripper flow output was close to the nominal value of manufacturer, in the case of the isolated dripper analysis. Although a comparison with results from experiments was not possible at the time, based on manufacturers’ catalogs, results proved satisfactory, leading to successful simulations.