CFD Modelling of the Transport of Soluble Pollutants from Sewer Networks to Surface Flows during Urban Flood Events

Md Nazmul Azim Beg, Matteo Rubinato, Rita Fernandes de Carvalho, James Shucksmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


Surcharging urban drainage systems are a potential source of pathogenic contamination of floodwater. While a number of previous studies have investigated net sewer to surface hydraulic flow rates through manholes and gullies during flood events, an understanding of how pollutants move from sewer networks to surface flood water is currently lacking. This paper presents a 3D CFD model to quantify flow and solute mass exchange through hydraulic structures featuring complex interacting pipe and surface flows commonly associated with urban flood events. The model is compared against experimental datasets from a large-scale physical model designed to study pipe/surface interactions during flood simulations. Results show that the CFD model accurately describes pipe to surface flow partition and solute transport processes through the manhole in the experimental setup. After validation, the model is used to elucidate key timescales which describe mass flow rates entering surface flows from pipe networks. Numerical experiments show that following arrival of a well-mixed solute at the exchange structure, solute mass exchange to the surface grows asymptotically to a value equivalent to the ratio of flow partition, with associated timescales a function of the flow conditions and diffusive transport inside the manhole.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2514
Number of pages17
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K040405/1) European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (Grant agreement No. 607000).


  • CFD
  • Hydraulic structures
  • Pollutant transport
  • Urban drainage
  • Urban flooding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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