Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Modeling

What We Can Do:

Complex hydraulics affect the performance of hydraulic structures and facilities such as spillways, intakes, tunnels, valves, pumping stations, mixing tanks, reservoirs, and fish passage facilities. In natural systems, the movement of water affects aquatic habitat, sedimentation, energy dissipation, and water quality. CFD models are sophisticated numerical tools used to investigate three-dimensional hydraulic problems at high resolution. They provide key information on flow patterns and velocities to design hydraulic structures and protect the aquatic environment.

British Columbia:
Jose Vasquez
Tom Demlow
David Axworthy
Ken Zhao
Brad Hall
Marc Villeneuve
Asia and Africa:
Jose Vasquez
Latin America:
Jose Vasquez

NHC provides CFD modeling of hydraulic structures and natural settings to evaluate flow patterns, mixing, water quality characteristics and constituent transport, and hydraulic properties in complex three-dimensional flow fields. The models are applied to a wide range of problem types and settings.

Our CFD modeling services include:

  • Hydraulic Modeling
    Used for spillways and energy dissipation structures to assess design alternatives and verify performance.
  • High Resolution Modeling
    Looking closely at fish screens, river intakes, and fish passage structures to evaluate local velocities and flow patterns that affect fish migration and protection.
  • Water Quality Evaluation
    Determining mixing and water quality in tanks and reservoirs.
  • Hydraulic Structures Evaluation
    Determining flow patterns in pump station wet wells, sumps, and intakes to improve efficiency and avoid cavitation and other problems.
  • Channel Investigation
    Examining flow patterns and localized hydraulics in natural and constructed channels to assess cross waves, eddies, erosive flow patterns, and other effects.
  • Structural Modeling
    Modeling of closed conduit appurtenances such as gates, fittings, valves, and injectors to evaluate or improve performance and to determine hydraulic forces.


NHC's CFD experience spans a wide range of hydraulic structures, flow conditions, and project objectives for government agencies, private industry, and consulting engineers. Previous projects include:

  • Hydraulic Structures
    CFD modeling for spillways, diversions, intakes, fish screens, tunnels, gates, outlet structures, energy dissipation structures, and other facilities where detailed understanding of velocity or flow distributions and localized hydraulics are critical to performance.
  • Pump Stations
    CFD models to evaluate and design wet wells and sumps to achieve uniform flow distribution and eliminate eddies or other undesirable flow phenomena that could adversely impact performance or damage equipment.
  • Tanks and Reservoirs
    Analyzed mixing, solids transport, and short circuiting in numerous tanks and reservoirs, and applied CFD modeling as a cost-effective alternative to field tracer (dye) tests.
  • Channels and Natural Water Bodies
    CFD analysis of sub- and super-critical open channels to investigate flow and velocity distributions, local erosion potential, and flow disturbances.

Technical Approach & Capabilities:

  • NHC maintains licenses for several commercially available CFD modeling packages and associated graphical input/output processing software.
  • Each project is assessed individually to determine the appropriate modeling methods and software that will be needed.

Injector mixing in pipeline

Flow patterns in a pump station
wet well

Velocities in a contact chamber

CFD model of river diversion

  • Hybrid approaches involving a combination of modeling techniques can be developed.
  • Our capabilities include field measurements of model input and calibration data, and evaluation of results to improve hydraulic designs or to meet environmental objectives.
  • CFD modeling and graphical output provides a detailed visual representation of the modeled system. Comparison to real world observations and other model results provides a high degree of confidence for project owners, designers, and other stakeholders.

Benefits & Results:

  • Complex problems in water infrastructure design and environmental hydraulics that previously could only be assessed using physical scale models can now be modeled more quickly and efficiently using computer software.
  • Detailed information is easier to understand and provides greater confidence in the design and infrastructure.
  • Reduced costs through greater efficiency.