Column separation refers to the breaking of liquid columns in fully filled pipelines. This may occur in a water-hammer event when the pressure in a pipeline drops to the vapor pressure at specific locations such as closed ends, high points or knees (changes in pipe slope). The liquid columns are separated by a vapor cavity that grows and diminishes according to the dynamics of the system. The collision of two liquid columns, or of one liquid column with a closed end, may cause a large and nearly instantaneous rise in pressure. This pressure rise travels through the entire pipeline and forms a severe load for hydraulic machinery, individual pipes and supporting structures. The situation is even worse: in one water-hammer event many repetitions of cavity formation and collapse may occur. This paper reviews water hammer with column separation from the discovery of the phenomenon in the late 19th century, the recognition of its danger in the 1930s, the development of numerical methods in the 1960s and 1970s, to the standard models used in commercial software packages in the late 20th century. A comprehensive survey of laboratory tests and field measurements is given. The review focuses on transient vaporous cavitation. Gaseous cavitation and steam condensation are beyond the scope of the paper.
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