View of a wave formed in our physical wave flume model

Wave flumes

HR Wallingford’s 2D wave flumes are where the majority of our coastal studies start. We use them to optimise and validate sections of revetment and breakwater before moving on to more complex 3D investigations. Our flumes are equipped with the same range of state of the art equipment and instrumentation as our wave basins, including laser scanning and video capture.

We have two wave flumes that are 40 m long and 1.2 m wide, with a maximum operating depth of 1.0 m. Each flume is equipped with a wavemaker that can produce both regular and random waves.

Flume tests are generally carried out to assess the performance of a cross-section when incident
waves are close to normal to the structure. To minimise scale effects, relatively large models are constructed with scales ranging between 1:10 to 1:40.

Wave generation

The flume wavemakers can create random wave trains of any spectral shape, including the standard JONSWAP and Pierson- Moskowitz spectra. We can generate model waves of up to 0.3 m in water depths of up to 1.0 m. Active wave absorption systems ensure that wave reflections from the test structure are absorbed, minimising reflected wave energy levels.

Model construction

The bathymetry is constructed in cement mortar to ensure that wave processes such as shoaling and breaking are correctly reproduced. The cross-section is built in a part of the flume that can be isolated. The means the structure can be modified quickly between tests, without the need to drain the whole of the flume.

How our wave flumes are used

Flume tests are used to fully explore the performance of a structure under a range of sea state conditions and to refine the cross-sectional design.

We use our flumes to investigate:

  • stability of armour layers
  • structure run-up performance
  • overtopping performance of the structure -  mean, peak or wave by wave discharge
  • wave reflections from, and transmission through, the structure
  • the susceptibility of the structure to toe scour
  • wave forces or pressures imposed on the structure.

An overview of our wave flumes

Facility Dimensions Operating water depth Notes
Wave flume 1 45 m x 1.2 m 1.2-1.5 m Piston paddle wavemaker
Wave flume 2 45 m x 1.2 m 1.2-1.5 m Piston paddle wavemaker

Want to know more?

Joe Mitchell
Laboratory Manager
+44 (0)1491 822899
Preferred contact method
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