Software Tools for the Changing Environment

Current Applications of Computational Fluid Dynamics to Hydraulic Problems in FHWA R & D at Argonne's Transportation Research and Analysis Computing Center

  • Steven Lottes (Argonne National Lab)


Analysts at Argonne National Laboratory’s Transportation Research and Analysis Computing Center (TRACC) are collaborating with researchers at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC), the University of Nebraska, the University of Iowa, and engineers at state DOTs to develop computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methodologies for a variety of applications of interest to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The major areas of focus of the project are wind and water effects on bridges: superstructure, deck, cables, and substructure (including soil), primarily during storms and flood events and the risks that these loads pose to structural failure. For flood events at bridges, another major focus of the work is assessment of the risk to bridges caused by scour of stream and riverbed material from the foundations of a bridge. Significant progress is being made in the development of 3D transient scour simulation at piers and other bridge structures that can be routinely done using robust commercial CFD software augmented with user defined functions for some of scour physics models. Other areas of current research include modeling of flow through culverts to improve design procedures, modeling of incipient motion of riprap to guide sizing and installation design, tsunami wave tank modeling, hydraulic capacity of street drains, and other topics.

Commercial CFD software is used for 3D hydraulic analysis because it is used routinely by private industry for analysis and design of a wide variety flow systems and vehicles and is consequently very robust. The commercial CFD software packages have a user defined function or subroutine functionality that allows the addition of new physics and material models that are not provided in the package for specialized applications. Argonne researchers are using the CD-adapco’s STAR-CCM+ software for hydraulic modeling efforts. CFD software capabilities are currently growing rapidly, and the new and enhanced capabilities allow application to a wider variety of problems. The new capabilities include a new approach to automatically meshing complex 3D geometries as a collection of parts that can be handled together or individually, moving, morphing, and overset meshes, and a Java based macro capability for automated control of the software for parametric studies and other tasks.

The presentation will briefly review CFD modeling efforts involving hydraulic systems and their relation to R&D efforts at the TFHRC. The scour modeling effort is using mesh morphing techniques, developed for fluid-structure interaction problems, to move the sediment bed in the scour process while maintaining computational mesh quality. Modeling of scour hole formation around piers requires a sand slide model in non-cohesive sediments to keep the scour hole from becoming too steep. Modeling of tsunami wave flume also used mesh morphing to accommodate the motion of a piston wave generator. The presentation will include illustrations of the models used in CFD analysis and visualizations of the results of analysis.

How to Cite:

Lottes, S., (2014) “Current Applications of Computational Fluid Dynamics to Hydraulic Problems in FHWA R & D at Argonne's Transportation Research and Analysis Computing Center”, National Hydraulic Engineering Conference 2014 1(2014).

Rights: Copyright © 2014 the presenters

Publisher Notes

  • Panel moderated by Dan Ghere, FHWA.
  • About the Presenters: Dr. Steven Lottes is an Argonne theorist specializing in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) of multiphase and reacting flows. He is currently the CFD simulation, modeling, and analysis lead at Argonne’s Transportation Research and Analysis Computing Center. He plans and coordinates CFD research on transportation applications, provides technical support to the center’s user community, develops training materials, and conducts training and technology transfer events to advance the use of CFD in solving aerodynamic and hydraulic problems that arise in maintaining and building transportation infrastructure. Dr. Lottes has extensive experience in the modeling and analysis of a variety of multi-phase, reacting, and other complex flow systems. He is the author/co-author of 4 copyrighted CFD software codes including Argonne’s Glass Furnace Model that received an R&D100 Award in 2004. Dr. Lottes received a Master’s degree from Purdue University in Computer Science and a Master’s and PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago.



Published on
22 Aug 2014
Peer Reviewed