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Department of Civil Engineering Acquires an Integrated Wave and Current Flume Facility

Dr Farhadzadeh’s Coastal and Hydraulic Engineering Research Laboratory is now equipped with a state-of-the-art piece of equipment. The research-grade wave/current flume is an invaluable tool for coastal, marine, and hydraulic engineering studies. The flume is capable of generating combined random waves and reversible currents to simulate a variety of real world phenomena including those involving sediment transports. The flume can also be used for marine renewable energy projects as well as testing and calibrating energy harvesting devices. The wave/current flume is 25 m (80 ft) long, 1.5 m (5 ft) wide and 1.5 m (5 ft) high and is equipped with a piston-type wet-back wave maker, current-recirculation system and an advanced data acquisition system. Below is the summary of the flume specifications.

Coastal and Hydraulic Engineering Research Laboratory and the flume


The tank-sides are constructed of toughened glass with a steel side frame and a stainless steel base. The tank dimensions are:

Width of working section                                         1.5 m

Depth of working section                                         1.5 m

Length of working section                                        18 m

Overall length                                                      24.85 m

Current-Recirculation System

A bi-directional variable speed axial flow pump re-circulates water in a pipe below the flume. The pump is capable of circulating a speed of 0.6 m/sec at water depth of 1 m. It is also capable of circulating water containing some sediment and potentially organic materials. The variable speed pump allows for more efficient control of flow especially at low flow rates. An electromagnetic flow measurement system is also used, with a logger that records flow characteristics.

Random Wave Maker

The piston-type wet-back wave maker with a servo electric actuation system is driven by brushless AC servo drive motor and supplied with position feedback control electronics cabinet and power supply. The wave paddle is 1.5 m high and 1.5 m wide. The wave maker consist of:

  1. A linear drive actuation system with brushless high performance AC servomotors and drivers. It includes a speed feedback solver and optimized engine control parameters.

  2. System-specific software generates signals for any user-defined wave spectra and commands the actuator system.

  3. An active absorption system compensates reflected waves and eliminates re-reflections.

The wave maker can generate a maximum wave height of 0.6 m at peak frequency 0.15Hz to 1.0Hz at the paddle with water depth of 1 m.

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Control System

The interface plugs into the provided PC via the USB cable and provides real time signals to drive the paddles. The user interface to this PC communicates via a cable or wireless laboratory network. The Wavemaker and pump can be controlled from any PC in the laboratory that is equipped with “OCEAN” software. The “OCEAN” software package is capable of producing sine waves and multi-spectral seas. It can also generate special effect waves. The software allows a single computer to synchronize wave generation with data collection and trigger external experimental rigs. Spectra include:

  • PM
  • TMA
  • Gausian
  • ITTC
  • ISSC
  • Darbyshire Ocean
  • Darbyshire Coastal
  • Bretschneider
  • Neuman

Additional spectra and waves can be added, merged or focused. The software has a real time code on the wavemaker that controls computer time code. Resistive wave gauges provide an 8-Channel data collection hub and software.                     

Wave-Current Flume