Numerical simulation of scour around a submarine pipeline using computational fluid dynamics and discrete element method

C. Lee, J. Yang, Y. Chiew, Y. M. Low
Applied Mathematical Modelling
scour, Sediment transport, submarine pipeline

Scour under a submarine pipeline can lead to structural failure, hence a good understanding of the scour mechanism is paramount. Various numerical methods have been proposed to simulate scour, such as potential flow theory, single-phase and two-phase turbulent models.

However, these numerical methods have limitations, such as their reliance on calibrated empirical parameters, as their inability to provide detailed information. This paper investigates the use of a coupled computational fluid dynamics – discrete element method (CFD-DEM) model to simulate scour around a pipeline. The novelty of this work is to use CFD-DEM to extract detailed information, leading to new findings that enhance the current understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the scour process. The simulated scour evolution and bed profile are found to be in good agreement with published experimental results.

Detailed results include the contours of the fluid velocity and fluid pressure, particle motion and velocity, fluid forces on the particles, and inter-particle forces. The sediment transport rate is calculated using the velocity of each single particle and quantitative analysis of the bed load layer is also presented. The numerical results reveal three scour stages: onset of scour, tunnel erosion, and lee-wake erosion. Particle velocity and force distributions show that during the tunnel erosion stage, the particle motion and particle-particle interactive forces are particularly intense, suggesting that single-phase models, which are unable to account for inter-particle interactions, may be inadequate.

The fluid pressure contours show a distinct pressure gradient. The pressure gradient force is calculated, and found to be comparable with the drag force for the onset of scour and the tunnel erosion. However, for the lee-wake erosion, the drag force is shown to be the dominant mechanism for the particle movements.

Keywords: scour, sediment transport, submarine pipeline.

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