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Cavitation Assessment of the Baihetan Discharge Tunnel – Using Computational Fluid Dynamics (Civil Project)

Recently it has become more common in the construction of large dams to reuse diversion tunnels as flood discharge tunnels in the final structure. These tunnels handle large flows with the characteristics of open channel flow. When such large hydrological forces act upon a structure there are several problems to be expected.

One of these is the occurrence of cavitation, which could have potential hazardous erosion as a consequence. Cavitation is the formation and collapse of bubbles that create a shockwave strong enough to erode the underlying material.

The Baihetan dam is one of the largest hydro power projects in China at present. It has three discharge tunnels that all run the risk of developing cavitation damages. By modelling one of the tunnels using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) it is possible to investigate where in the tunnel structure cavitation is likely to occur.

This degree project assesses the risk of cavitation erosion in the Baihetan tunnel using the static pressure distribution, the velocity distribution and modern cavitation theory. Several modifications of the tunnel including alterations in the gradient and construction parameters are simulated in order to investigate if changes in the design can mitigate the cavitation problem. None of the analysed modifications completely eliminate the problem and aeration is recommended to counteract the problem. This study indicates where cavitation might be a problem in the Baihetan tunnel and can be used as a basis for further research.
Source: KTH
Authors: Alderman, Carin | Andersson, Sophia

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