How to Effectively Manage Sediment at Hydroelectric Facilities

Deposition and transport of sediment at hydroelectric facilities can require costly maintenance, reduce generation performance, and cause wear on turbines and other generation equipment. Incorporating features that reduce sedimentation problems can be important to hydroelectric project function, reliability, and economics. Predicting potential sedimentation issues during hydroelectric design and addressing sedimentation problems for existing facilities, however, requires sophisticated understanding, expertise, and experience, and use of effective specialized tools such as physical models or computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models.

Brian Hughes is NHC's Principal and Director of Physical Modeling operations. He recently authored a featured article, Using Experimental Methods to Advance Sediment Management Solutions at Hydroelectric Facilities for Hydrolink, a publication of the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR). The article describes NHC's approaches, including physical and advanced numerical modeling, to developing solutions for clients at both existing and proposed hydroelectric projects.

The solutions have been as varied as the problems themselves. For smaller, run-of-river developments, solutions can include field monitoring to guide operation, controlling the sediment source, incorporating sediment guide walls or vanes upstream of the intake, or periodic dredging or sluicing of the accumulated sediment. For larger developments, the solutions can also include incorporating sediment bypass or desanding facilities, and in many cases the preferred solution may include two or more of these components.

For more information, see the issue at this link IAHR Hydrolink Spring 2016 Issue.

NHC and Lasalle|NHC have operated hydraulic laboratories in Canada and the United States for over 50 years. For more information on our physical modeling facilities and projects, please visit our Physical Modeling page -- or just contact one of our Principals, Brian Hughes at 604.980.6011 or Marc Villeneuve at 514.366.2970 to discuss your needs.