Introduction of Surge Tanks

Introduction of Surge Tanks

Surge tanks are critical components in many industrial and water supply systems, but their importance is often overlooked. These tanks play a crucial role in regulating water pressure and preventing damaging surges in the pipelines. As such, they are vital for protecting the integrity of the entire system and ensuring its smooth operation. In this article, we will explore the basics of surge tanks, their functions, types, and benefits, providing a comprehensive introduction to this essential technology. Understanding the fundamentals of surge tanks is crucial for engineers, designers, and operators involved in water-related projects, as well as for anyone interested in gaining insight into the inner workings of water supply systems. So, let’s dive in and discover more about surge tanks and their applications.

Location of Surge Tanks

Location of Surge Tanks

A surge tank, also known as a surge chamber or surge basin, is an important element in the design of a hydropower system or water distribution system. Its purpose is to store and control the excess pressure that is generated due to sudden changes in flow, preventing damage to the system and ensuring its efficient operation.

Location is a key factor in the design of surge tanks, as it directly affects their effectiveness and functionality. Here are some important considerations when determining the location of surge tanks.

1. Elevation: Surge tanks are typically located at higher elevations, either at the highest point of the system or along the pipeline route. This is to take advantage of the potential energy generated by the water column, allowing it to be used for emptying the tank and balancing the system’s pressure.

2. Slope and alignment of pipelines: The location of surge tanks must be coordinated with the slope and alignment of pipelines. The tank should be situated on a relatively flat terrain to ensure proper construction and maintenance access. The alignment of the pipelines should also be carefully considered to ensure that any sudden changes in flow can be managed effectively by the surge tank.

3. Distance from the source and demand points: Surge tanks should be strategically located in the system, between the source and demand points. This allows for better control of water flow and pressure along the pipeline. The distance from the source and demand points will vary depending on the type of system and the size of the tank.

4. Site conditions: The physical characteristics of the proposed location, such as soil conditions, subsurface water conditions, and topography, should also be taken into account. The chosen location should be able to support the weight and size of the surge tank.

5. Hydraulic considerations: The location of the surge tank should be selected based on hydraulic considerations such as minimum system hydraulic grade line, minimum pressure, and velocity requirements. This ensures the smooth and efficient operation of the system, minimizing the risk of pipe bursts or water hammer.

6. Public safety: Surge tanks are often located in remote areas, away from residential or commercial areas to ensure public safety. However, if a surge tank is located near habitation, it must be designed to eliminate any hazards to the public, such as structural failures or flooding.

In conclusion, the location of surge tanks is a critical aspect of their design and must be carefully considered by civil engineers. Factors such as elevation, slope and alignment of pipelines, distance from the source and demand points, site conditions, hydraulic considerations, and public safety must all be taken into account to ensure the proper functioning of the surge tank and the entire system.

Use of Surge Tank

Use of Surge Tank

A surge tank, also known as a surge chamber or surge control tank, is a water storage tank used in hydraulic systems to prevent water hammer and pressure fluctuations. It is typically located at the water outlet of a pump station or hydropower system and acts as a buffer to regulate the flow and pressure of the water.

The main function of a surge tank is to reduce the sudden changes in water flow and pressure that can occur in hydraulic systems. When a pump starts or stops operating, there is a rapid change in the water velocity and pressure, which can cause water hammer, a phenomenon that can cause damage to pipes, pumps, and other hydraulic equipment. The surge tank absorbs these sudden changes and provides a steady flow of water to the system, protecting it from potential damage.

Another important use of surge tanks is in hydropower systems. When a hydropower plant is operating at its maximum capacity, the flow velocity of water is high, and the pressure in the penstock (the pipe that carries water to the turbine) is high. If there is a sudden change in the electric load demand, the turbine may stop or change its speed, leading to rapid changes in water flow and pressure. This can be controlled by using a surge tank, which absorbs these sudden changes and maintains a constant flow of water to the turbine, ensuring its smooth operation.

Surge tanks are also used in water distribution systems to maintain a constant pressure in the pipelines. The tanks are placed at strategic locations along the pipeline to absorb the variations in flow and pressure caused by pumps and other equipment. This helps to prevent water hammer and ensures a steady water supply to consumers.

In addition to regulating water flow and pressure, surge tanks can also act as a storage facility for excess water. During periods of low demand, the pumps can continue to operate, filling the surge tank. This stored water can then be used during periods of high demand or when there is a power outage, providing a backup supply of water.

Designing a surge tank requires careful consideration of the hydraulic conditions and system requirements. Factors such as the size and location of the tank, its shape, and the material used must be taken into account to ensure its effectiveness in controlling water flows and pressures.

In summary, surge tanks are crucial components in hydraulic systems and play a vital role in maintaining their efficiency and functionality. They provide protection against water hammer, maintain constant pressure, and act as storage facilities, making them an essential tool for engineers in the design and operation of various hydraulic systems.

Types of Surge Tank

Types of Surge Tank

Surge tanks are an essential component in hydropower systems that help regulate the flow of water and prevent pressure fluctuations within the system. They are mainly used in situations where the demand for water fluctuates, such as in a hydroelectric power plant or a water distribution system. Surge tanks work by absorbing the excess water flow during periods of high demand and releasing it during periods of low demand, thus stabilizing the system’s pressure and flow. There are different types of surge tanks, and their selection depends on various factors such as the system’s design, location, and functionality. In this article, we will discuss the different types of surge tanks.

1. Simple Surge Tank
The simple surge tank, also known as the single-chamber surge tank, is the most basic type of surge tank. It consists of a single vertical chamber connected to the penstock (the pipeline that carries water to the turbine). During periods of high demand, the excess water enters the surge tank and is stored, thus reducing the pressure in the penstock. As the demand for water decreases, the surge tank releases the stored water, increasing the pressure in the penstock.

2. Multi-Chamber Surge Tank
The multi-chamber surge tank is an advanced type of surge tank with more than one chamber. The chambers are connected in series and allow for a more sophisticated control of water flow. The first chamber is used to reduce the pressure during periods of high demand, while the second chamber is used to store the excess water. The stored water is then released during periods of low demand.

3. Tank and Tunnel Surge Tank
The tank and tunnel surge tank is a combination of a surge tank and a tunnel. It consists of a vertical chamber connected to a horizontal tunnel. The tunnel is located at a lower elevation than the surge tank and acts as a reservoir for storing the excess water from the surge tank. When the demand for water decreases, the stored water is released into the tunnel, thus stabilizing the system’s pressure and flow.

4. Inverted Surge Tank
Unlike other types of surge tanks, the inverted surge tank is located downstream of the hydropower turbine. It is designed to store the excess water from the turbine during periods of high demand. As the demand decreases, the water is released back into the penstock, thus stabilizing the system’s pressure and flow. Inverted surge tanks are commonly used in small hydropower plants.

5. Over-Pressure Surge Tank
The over-pressure surge tank is a highly efficient type of surge tank that uses a compressible air cushion to regulate the water pressure. It consists of a vertical chamber filled with compressed air, located above the water level. As the demand for water increases, the excess water enters the surge tank and compresses the air, thus reducing the water pressure. As the demand decreases, the compressed air expands, forcing the stored water into the penstock, thus increasing the pressure.

In conclusion, the type of surge tank to be used in a hydropower system depends on various factors, including the system’s design, location, and functionality. Each type of surge tank has its advantages and limitations, and the selection should be based on the specific system’s requirements. Proper selection and design of a surge tank are crucial for the efficient and safe operation of a hydropower system.


In conclusion, surge tanks play a crucial role in many industries, particularly in the field of hydraulics and water supply systems. They serve as a safeguard against water hammer and pressure fluctuations, ensuring the smooth and continuous operation of pipelines and machinery. With the constant advancements in technology and design, surge tanks have become more efficient and cost-effective, making them an indispensable component in various infrastructure projects. It is important for engineers and project planners to carefully consider the need for surge tanks in their designs and to properly maintain them for optimal performance. By understanding the principles and benefits of surge tanks, we can ensure the reliability and longevity of our hydraulic systems.


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