Water and Soil Flume

The Water Soil Flume (WSF) of Deltares is often used by our partners from the maritime, energy, dredging, and mining industry. This experimental facility is the go-to facility for soft soil-related R&D and innovations.

Some of the unique features of WSF are:

  • The in-ground concrete flume (50 m length, 5.5 m width, 2.5 m depth) with the flexibility of constructing smaller compartments with glass panels in the main flume, allowing studies at different scales ranging from around 1m3 to 500 m3 test setup.
  •  The carriage and rail system on top of the in-ground concrete flume, which offers the possibility of towing an object in the flume with a controlled speed ranging from 1 mm/s up to 2.5 m/sec. This carriage can also be used to pull or push an object horizontally through the soil-water mixture in the flume.
  • The unique possibility of using sand and mud (cohesive sediment) in the flume.
  • The clay factory with a production capacity of about 12 tons/day of clay with a desired strength/properties of up to 70 kPa undrained shear strength.
  • The sand conditioning machine which is used to achieve a different level of compaction in a sand deposit using a beam with 5 vertical vibrating compaction needles.
  • The hexapod platform used for multiaxial shearing and fluidization tests (with a max. carrying capacity of 500 kg weight of soil sample), allowing the movement in 6 degrees of freedom.
  • The Plexiglas flume (25m length, 0.5m width, 0.7m depth).
  • And plenty of measurement devices to monitor and characterize properties of the soft soil-water mixture, for instance:
    – Sand concentration conductivity system.
    – (pore) Pressure sensors.
    – Flow meters.
    – Seepage-induced consolidation (SIC) to examine the permeability and compressibility of soft soil samples under larger stresses.
    – Shear cell system to characterize sand segregation under the influence of shear flow.
    – Several low and high tech rheometers to characterize the flow behavior of non-Newtonian soft soils.
    – Different fiber optics-based monitoring systems (e.g. DTS, DAS) for real-time monitoring of various subsurface properties.
    – Laser-based Particle Image Velocimetry to visualize the flow field velocity.
    – Malvern to characterize the grain size distribution of soft soil samples.
    – Fall cone to measure the undrained strength of soft soil samples.
    – And many more.

Photo: Dirk Hol

The WSF can be used for large scale model tests concerning, for example:

  • Cutting devices
  • Suction devices
  • Trenching equipment
  • Anchors
  • Jets
  • Plume dispersion
  • Monopile installation and stability
  • Geotechnical stability of infrastructures under frequent inundation
  • Hydraulic sand and soft soil fill (flow and beaching)
  • Breaching and cone formation in dredging applications
  • Physics of Non-Newtonian flows and segregating behavior
  • Subaerial and subaqueous capping
  • Nautical bottom research (e.g. sailing through mud and WID)
  • Mudflow and (tailings) dam break
  • Channel and ditch lining
  • Bubble screen performance
  • Deep-sea cutter and collectors

Some of the recent experimental programs at WSF concerned:

  • Installation of monopiles used for offshore wind turbines.
  • Various deep-sea collectors, intending to minimize the seabed erosion during deep-sea mining operations.
  • Water injection dredging, utilizing as much as possible the natural forces for sediment management in ports and waterways.
  • Sailing through mud, evaluating the necessity of dredging and thus avoiding too often maintenance dredging.
  • Fiber optics-based technologies, quantifying and monitoring subsurface properties in thermal boreholes and wind farm applications.

And many laboratory characterizations of the soft soil properties.