Team tests options to extend Belgian breakwater

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We have constructed a 1:40 scale model of an extension to the western breakwater at the Belgian harbour of Blankenberge, and are now running tests in our labs to assess its stability.

The Coastal Department of the Flemish Government is considering increasing the existing western breakwater at the Blankenberge harbour in both height and length to help prevent sand being deposited in the entrance to the harbour. One side of the breakwater is flanked by a sandy beach, while the other faces the harbour entrance channel. The tests in our modelling hall are designed to assess how an extended structure would behave on each side in terms of armour stability.

Our model of the breakwater before tests began.

The stability will be assessed for two different configurations of the armour layer. The tests will start with a rock armoured double layer. In case the 3D wave tests show any instabilities, the most exposed section of the breakwater will be armoured with a single layer of Haro concrete units. These units have already been applied at multiple structures to protect the Belgian ports. To put the structure through its paces, our wavemakers will generate different conditions, covering a total of three wave directions at different water levels.

Testing the breakwater.

Leen Baelus from Belgian engineering firm IMDC, which commissioned the physical modelling tests on behalf of the Coastal Division, said: “We chose HR Wallingford to conduct these tests, because of their good track record of testing coastal structures of all types. The accuracy of the test results is going to be crucial in helping make decisions about the next steps for this project.”

IMDC is responsible for the design of the project, in collaboration with Tractebel and SBE.

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