Computational Fluid Dynamics in Ecohydraulics

From Montana Tech High Performance Computing

Joel Cahoon, Erick Johnson, Kathryn Plymesser

Montana State University (MSU) College of Engineering

Ecohydraulics is a term that refers to the study of the interface between ecological systems and computations involving hydraulics or fluid mechanics. Advanced finite-element or finite-volume methods have proven to be effective and desirable when this interface requires solutions of more detail than typical one-dimensional steady-state hydraulics. Ecohydraulics problems often involve the superposition of anthropogenic activity on sensitive riparian settings, habitat preservation or water quality goals often where species of concern are present. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) refers to the application of the numerical methods to solve the Navier-Stokes equations. We have a history of success in the use of CFD models to predict fish mobility challenges where fish encounter man-made structures. Dr. Cahoon has completed a project where a CFD model was used to predict fish mobility in road culverts. Dr. Cahoon and Ms. Plymesser are currently working on CFD-based formulation of fish passage and fish energetics in a flume that is used to allow fish to bypass low-head dams. Dr. Johnson is a new hire at MSU and has interest in joining the current efforts and expanding work to include studies of power generation facilities in areas with sensitive habitat or species concerns.

The primary focus of this project is to examine the utility and feasibility of using the HPC at Montana Tech to run models of interest to the research team.