Quadratic head loss approximations for optimisation problems in water supply networks

Filippo Pecci, Edo Abraham, Stoianov I

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents a novel analysis of the accuracy of quadratic approximations for the Hazen–Williams (HW) head loss formula, which enables the control of constraint violations in optimisation problems for water supply networks. The two smooth polynomial approximations considered here minimise the absolute and relative errors, respectively, from the original non-smooth HW head loss function over a range of flows. Since quadratic approximations are used to formulate head loss constraints for different optimisation problems, we are interested in quantifying and controlling their absolute errors, which affect the degree of constraint violations of feasible candidate solutions. We derive new exact analytical formulae for the absolute errors as a function of the approximation domain, pipe roughness and relative error tolerance. We investigate the efficacy of the proposed quadratic approximations in mathematical optimisation problems for advanced pressure control in an operational water supply network. We propose a strategy on how to choose the approximation domain for each pipe such that the optimisation results are sufficiently close to the exact hydraulically feasible solution space. By using simulations with multiple parameters, the approximation errors are shown to be consistent with our analytical predictions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-506
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydroinformatics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Hazen–Williams
  • modelling, optimisation
  • pipe friction
  • water supply networks


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