Scaled physical models have been widely used for decades to evaluate design and operational issues associated with complex flow systems. When scaled properly, physical models faithfully replicate the physics of the flow and accurately simulate the performance of the prototype system. 

When properly conducted, a physical model study is a reliable method for studying flow patterns, pressure losses, constituent transport and reaction rates, forces on structures and other phenomena of interest for a given design—a useful tool that can be used to derive modifications which lead to acceptable designs or design improvements.

Physical modeling is especially important for pump station designs that need to achieve satisfactory hydraulic performance based on the Hydraulic Institute Standards for Pump Intake Design, ANSI/HI 9.8-2018 and Pump Piping ANSI/HI 9.6.6-2016 acceptance criteria. 

Our expert engineers have decades of experience choosing the best modeling approach to reliably solve your most challenging flow problems.

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The Cedar Cliff dam and hydropower project is located approximately six miles from Cullowhee, in Jackson Country, North Carolina. The dam and hydroelectric facility is owned by Duke Energy and is located downstream of three other hydroelectric projects that are operated as a system.

The primary spillway includes a Tainter gate and the existing auxiliary spillway system includes two fuse plug sections (with different crest/activation elevations).  It was determined that the combination of the primary and auxiliary spillway systems were not adequate to safely pass the regulatory-increased Inflow Design Flood (IDF). The construction of a Hydroplus Fusegate system with six semi-labyrinth Fusegates in an enlarged auxiliary spillway channel was selected to increase spillway capacity to safely pass the new IDF which is now the full Probable Maximum Flood (PMF). 

Two reduced scale physical models were constructed to determine the required size of a ventilation system for the proposed Cedar Cliff Fusegates and headpond and tailwater levels at each Fusegate for flows up to the sixth Fusegate activating. The tailwater levels were required for design of the Fusegate ballast system.  

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Model testing looking upstream
Civil Infrastructure
Cedar Cliff Spillway

Physical model study to determine hydraulic performance of a proposed auxiliary spillway system during flooding events