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Testing the waters

Testing the waters

[photo of graduate students conducting research at the meandering channel in the Queen's Coastal Engineering Lab]
Bernard Clark

Graduate students Laura Segura, Saeid Ahadi, and Christopher Gamboa Monge work on the meandering channel at the Coastal Engineering Lab. By injecting food dye into the channel water, they can track the flow of contaminants in a river. They are part of Ana da Silva’s lab in Civil Engineering, as are Kerri Bascom and Kenneth Lockhead, seen at left.

Queen’s first coastal engineering research facility was built in 1968 under the supervision of Arthur Brebner, then head of Civil Engineering. A fourth-year undergraduate course and two graduate courses in coastal engineering were started that year.

Today, the Queen’s Coastal Engineering Lab is the largest university hydraulics laboratory in Canada. Located on West Campus, it houses three 45m-long wave flumes, a large wave basin, three river simulator flumes, a rotating fluids table, a landslide flume, and two other water channels. The facility is used for fundamental and applied research, physical modelling for industry and government partners, and teaching in a broad range of water areas, from river engineering to water supply systems and landslides.

Creating energy

In 2016, Dr. Ana da Silva partnered with James Li of Ryerson University on a project for Ontario Power Generation to test a new turbine for the Ranney Falls Generation Station, which produces hydroelectricity. To address the increasing demand for electric energy, OPG wanted to add a turbine to the site that could double the station’s capacity, from 10 to 20 megawatts. However, adding a new water intake, which directs water from a dam to a turbine, can create a potentially damaging vortex formation.

“We built a large scale [1:25] model of the dam,” says Dr. da Silva. “We observed the vortex generation and studied different solutions to eliminate, or minimize, these vortices.”

OPG is now installing the new turbine and intake at the Ranney Falls station, based on the work of Drs. da Silva and Li, which included both physical modelling and computer simulations. The model dam remains at the Coastal Engineering Lab, where it is used for undergraduate and graduate student research projects.

… and mitigating disaster

Andy Take, a geotechnical engineer and landslide researcher in the Department of Civil Engineering, oversees the landslide flume at the Coastal Engineering Lab. The flume is used to simulate landslides, the waves they generate,and the damage they can cause.

Dr. Take also works with fellow civil engineering professor Ryan Mulligan on the mechanics of landslide-propagated tsunamis. Dr. Mulligan, a coastal engineer who studies the behaviour of waves, also works on ways to help engineers design for coastal areas as hurricanes become more frequent and intense.

Watch a video about the landslide flume:

Watch a video about the coastal wave basin:

[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 1-2018]