Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Robert E Spall


Robert E Spall


Michael C. Johnson


Aaron Katz


Many existing dams in the United States were built without hydroelectric generating accessories and are now being considered for hydroelectric installations. A bifurcation is regularly used as the method for diverting the water to the new generators. With a bifurcation installed as part of the new piping system, cavitation could become a problem. Although widely used, there are no published data on cavitation characteristics or head loss coefficients for these bifurcations. Dimensional analysis has not been adequate for experimentally quantifying the cavitation potential and full scale testing is prohibitive for many large geometries. Therefore this study utilized Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) in conjunction with a physical model to predict conditions that would cause the onset of cavitation. Head loss coefficients were also calculated from the CFD simulations and physical model. Based on these results, the authors have produced recommended operating conditions that will allow bifurcations to operate within safe limits of cavitation. This study was not exhaustive but presents data that has previously been unavailable and will assist designers and operators to better understand the performance of such bifurcations.



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