Measuring tsunami forces to design safe cooling systems for (nuclear) power plants

Published: 20 November 2017

Power plants use large amounts of cooling water in their processes. To obtain cooling water, large intake structures are generally built near rivers and in coastal regions. The (nuclear) power stations that are built in coastal regions might be susceptible to tsunami forces. To design a “tsunami resistant” intake structure, the forces on these structures need to be accurately determined.

Numerical models, such as the free, open source CFD software OpenFOAM, are often used to design such intake structures. However, these tools can only provide reliable results, when they are calibrated against accurate measurements. For this purpose, physical scale model tests were performed at Deltares, where forces on an intake structure were measured during a tsunami event (see video). Additionally, the flow patterns around these structures were measured by means of highly detailed PIV measurements. These advanced measurements allow us to get a thorough insight into the flow patterns near the intake structure in case of a tsunami event. Based on this fundamental understanding in hydraulic behavior near the intake structure, we will able to better predict the hydraulic loads that occur during a tsunami event.

These tests have been performed in the Deltares’ Eastern Scheldt flume test facility. These tests will be used as validation material for our numerical models, which can be used as a design tool.