Predictive model for local scour downstream of hydrokinetic turbines in erodible channels

Mirko Musa, Michael Heisel, Michele Guala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A modeling framework is derived to predict the scour induced by marine hydrokinetic turbines installed on fluvial or tidal erodible bed surfaces. Following recent advances in bridge scour formulation, the phenomenological theory of turbulence is applied to describe the flow structures that dictate the equilibrium scour depth condition at the turbine base. Using scaling arguments, we link the turbine operating conditions to the flow structures and scour depth through the drag force exerted by the device on the flow. The resulting theoretical model predicts scour depth using dimensionless parameters and considers two potential scenarios depending on the proximity of the turbine rotor to the erodible bed. The model is validated at the laboratory scale with experimental data comprising the two sediment mobility regimes (clear water and live bed), different turbine configurations, hydraulic settings, bed material compositions, and migrating bedform types. The present work provides future developers of flow energy conversion technologies with a physics-based predictive formula for local scour depth beneficial to feasibility studies and anchoring system design. A potential prototype-scale deployment in a large sandy river is also considered with our model to quantify how the expected scour depth varies as a function of the flow discharge and rotor diameter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024606
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Science Foundation CAREER: Geophysical Flow Control (awards ID: 1351303).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Physical Society.


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