The effect of inlet design on the flow within a combined waves and current flumes, test tank and basins

Adam Robinson, David Ingram, Ian Bryden, Tom Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The motion of the sea, through waves and currents, represents a large source of clean and safe energy. However, any structure built to operate in the sea will experience large varying forces and a difficult environment. It is therefore crucial to develop realistic and repeatable sea-like conditions in a laboratory in order to lower the cost and risk of developing off-shore structures. Building on previous efforts, an experimentally validated numerical model is used to predict the current-only flow in flumes capable of combining waves and current. This model is then used to simulate the flows within common flume configurations and within a new concept known as the “isolating inlet flume”. The results of these simulations are then analysed to assess the performance of each flume type and to understand the fluid dynamics that govern each type. Flume performance is found to be largely determined by the creation and dissipation of shear layers. The tests proved that a flume using the isolating inlet requires significantly less downstream length to achieve a developed flow and acceptable turbulence levels than the previous flume configurations. The isolating inlet has the additional benefit of creating a still zone where a conventional wave-maker might be used. Further simulations are used to investigate the design of the isolating inlet flume and demonstrate how it works. This paper should be of use to scientists and engineers seeking to design flumes, test tanks and basins that create sea-like test conditions, thus improving the scope and range of laboratory testing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-129
Number of pages12
JournalCoastal Engineering
Early online date6 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


  • Current
  • Wave
  • Flume
  • Test
  • Tank
  • Basin


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