2015 – Efficient and cost-effective modelling and analysis of hydraulic structures using CFD

Thomas Ewing, Marius Jonker & James Willey

The use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling techniques is gaining broad acceptance in the dams industry as an important design tool for hydraulic structures. This is particularly so in the earlier stages of analysis and design where the construction of physical models would be prohibitive on the basis of cost and time. Current CFD techniques allow users to produce a rapid evaluation of the existing conditions, which when coupled with the ability to quickly test an array of potential scenarios, enables the incorporation of innovative design solutions that may otherwise not have been considered during the design selection process prior to the advent of CFD capabilities.

Details of a recent case study are presented to illustrate the broad capabilities and benefits of CFD modelling techniques and their application in engineering analysis and design. The case study involves modelling of the Somerset Dam, a 50 m high concrete gravity dam with a gated overflow spillway including overtopping of the spillway bridge, gates and complex flow conditions in the abutment sections, which individually and collectively could not be accurately analysed with the traditional, simplified methods. The CFD study enabled an understanding of the hydraulic behaviour including discharge efficiency, jet impact loads on the gates and gate operating equipment and bridge structure; extent of potential erosion as a result of jet impingement on the abutments; loads on sluices and behaviour of the stilling basin. In addition to being a very large and complex model, the modelling involved several novel technical aspects.
The case study clearly highlights the benefits of the CFD modelling in understanding the complex hydraulic conditions and delivering cost effective solutions.
Keywords: Computational Fluid Dynamics, Somerset Dam.

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