June 24, 2021

Validation of Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulations for Biological Performance Assessment in Hydropower units


The biological performance assessment (BioPA) toolset developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) estimates the relative biological performance of fish passage at a hydroelectric power turbine unit. The tool is based on the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and fish biological response relationships. The recent release, BioPA-v3, is based on directly computed trajectory and collision of material Lagrangian particles using CFD simulation codes rather than the prior version that relies on Tecplot to compute streamtrace trajectories. Before modifying the toolset, a series of validation tests were performed at the various steps of modification in the toolset. Validation is a critical step of any numerical investigation that reflects the accuracy and reliability of the predicted results. It raises the confidence level of the user to use the modified version of the BioPA toolset. Several test cases were simulated and compared, where available, to observed data. The trajectory and collision of the small spherical and cylindrical particles in a water flume were compared to in-house experiments. The CFD predicted collision rate and flow field compared well with experimental observation for vane array and large cylinder as target bodies. Next, the CFD-predicted flow field and hydraulic performance of a laboratory-scale model of a Francis turbine was also successfully validated. Note that the trajectory of the particles is significantly affected by the flow field in such extreme conditions. In addition to the particle trajectories and flow field, the collision detection method employed in the CFD simulations was also successfully validated. The CFD predicted impact velocity, collision time, velocity, and trajectory of a sphere excellently matched with analytical value for a bouncing ball in the elastic collision. A similar approach was also tested and successfully validated for a collision of sphere with a 45? inclined plane. After successfully validating different cases, the BioPA toolset was modified to use direct output of the CFD prediction and the new version can be used in evaluating biological performance at hydroelectric turbines.

Published: June 24, 2021


Singh R.K., M.C. Richmond, P. Romero-Gomez, C.L. Rakowski, and J.A. Serkowski. 2021. Validation of Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulations for Biological Performance Assessment in Hydropower units Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.