The flow channel structure is the main factor affecting the hydraulic performance, anti-clogging and energy dissipation performance of drip irrigation tape. Proper exploring of the performance-related but hard-to-measure structure parameters in the flow channel emitter of drip irrigation tape is imperative. However, the traditional studying methods may lead to large systematic errors and human errors, resulting in inaccurate estimations of the parameters and an unreasonable design. This paper aims to find an effective way to optimize the most significant channel structural parameter through studying 18 kinds of drip irrigation belts commonly used in the agricultural irrigation field. Unigraphics NX and Spaceclaim were applied to measure the eight main structure parameters of the selected drip irrigation tapes. The one critical parameter that affects the emitter hydraulic performance—tooth spacing—was found by Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Therefore, we designed three plans where the tooth spacing decreased by 0.1, 0.2, and 0.29 mm to 1.36, 1.26, and 1.17 mm, respectively, and, finally, formed two types of flow channels. Flow channel 1 with a tooth base is represented by Plan 1 and Plan 2, and flow channel 2 without a tooth base is represented by Plan 3. Then, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was used to simulate the flow characteristics of the emitters in the three plans. The results demonstrate that flow channel 2 without a tooth base, represented by Plan 3, has a greater kinetic energy and hydraulic performance than flow channel 1. Compared with the control group, the changes in Plan 3 were the most obvious, with the changes in the flow index, flow coefficient, and average flow rate by −14.50%, −5.08%, and 12.50%, respectively. The flow indexes in the three plans are all less than 0.5, while the smallest of Plan 3 is 0.395. Therefore, the hydraulic performance of flow channel 2 represented by Plan 3 is better. The narrowing of the tooth spacing makes the space for vortexing between the serrated teeth smaller. The flow velocity in Plan 3 is generally increased by 3 m/s from 2.3 to 4.1 m/s, becoming more uniform. Due to a high velocity of the water flow and less vortexing, the deposition of suspended solids in the flow channel is avoided to a certain extent, and for the flow channel in Plan 3, the improvement in the hydraulic performance is greater than the reduction in the energy dissipation performance. The ratio of the decrease in the flow index to the increase in the average outflow of the emitter in Plan 3 is 1.16:1. In conclusion, the overall performance of Plan 3 is optimal for all schemes. Flow channel 2 can improve the hydraulic performance and reduce the production costs. Therefore, this study could provide a theoretical induction for inner drip irrigation tape application and production.
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.