Assessment of CFD turbulence models for free surface flow simulation and 1-D modelling for water level calculations over a broad-crested weir floodway

  • Ahmed M Helmi Irrigation and Hydraulics Department, Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, Egypt
Keywords: broad-crested weirs, floodway, turbulence, free surface flow, Flow-3D, CFD, VOF, HEC-RAS


Floodways, where a road embankment is permitted to be overtopped by flood water, are usually designed as broad-crested weirs. Determination of the water level above the floodway is crucial and related to road safety. Hydraulic performance of floodways can be assessed numerically using 1-D modelling or 3-D simulation using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) packages. Turbulence modelling is one of the key elements in CFD simulations. A wide variety of turbulence models are utilized in CFD packages; in order to identify the most relevant turbulence model for the case in question, 96 3-D CFD simulations were conducted using Flow-3D package, for 24 broad-crested weir configurations selected based on experimental data from a previous study. Four turbulence models (one-equation, k-ε, RNG k-ε, and k-ω) ere examined for each configuration. The volume of fluid (VOF) algorithm was adopted for free water surface determination. In addition, 24 1-D simulations using HEC-RAS-1-D were conducted for comparison with CFD results and experimental data. Validation of the simulated water free surface profiles versus the experimental measurements was carried out by the evaluation of the mean absolute error, the mean relative error percentage, and the root mean square error. It was concluded that the minimum error in simulating the full upstream to downstream free surface profile is achieved by using one-equation turbulence model with mixing length equal to 7% of the smallest domain dimension. Nevertheless, for the broad-crested weir upstream section, no significant difference in accuracy was found between all turbulence models and the one-dimensional analysis results, due to the low turbulence intensity at this part. For engineering design purposes, in which the water level is the main concern at the location of the flood way, the one-dimensional analysis has sufficient accuracy to determine the water level.

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Research paper