CFD Modeling - More Than Just a Pretty Picture

Eric Snavely, PE, Project Engineer, Schnabel Engineering

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling has been a tool utilized for complex hydraulic problems for many years. It is often glossed over as a process that is expensive, both from a time and monetary perspective. Generally, with the thought that it won’t add much benefit besides providing a pretty colorful picture. This might have been the case in the past, but with advances in computational hardware and numerical modeling software it is becoming much easier to implement CFD as part of a dam’s hydraulic analysis. Depending on the desired results, CFD models can be as simple as a series of sectional model to screen out potential spillway rehabilitation alternatives, or as complex as a full spillway model to identify potential areas of concern in the design. In either case, it’s possible to generate these models with a little extra effort, all for the added benefit to the project.


Author Bio

Eric Snavely joined Schnabel in 2019 as part of the dam engineering group. There he has worked on dams from Virginia to Georgia, and as far west as Washington state. Primarily performing hydrologic and hydraulic analyses, he has had the opportunity to develop models for a wide variety of dams.