Influence of in- and outflow sequences on flow patterns and suspended sediment behavior in reservoirs

by Michael Müller

Institution: EPFL
Year: 2012
Keywords: Reservoir sedimentation; suspended sediment; settling behavior; flow patterns; inand outflow cycles; prototype investigations; Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers; turbidity monitoring; laboratory experiments; cycle magnitude; cycle frequency; kinetic energy
Record ID: 1087279
Full text PDF: http://infoscience.epfl.ch/record/180650


Reservoir sedimentation and the resulting storage losses impact reliability, efficiency, safety and thus the sustainability of the hydropower schemes. Beside traditional storage hydropower plants, also pumped-storage facilities are affected. Flexible turbine and pump operations between two reservoirs allow demand-depending electricity production and absorption. Thus, they play a dominant role in peak load energy production as well as grid regulation. The storage volumes are influenced by continuous in- and outflow cycles. Their impact on sediment settling processes has not been addressed in research yet. Inspired by the cyclic, bidirectional water exchange of pumped-storage plants, a novel method for sediment removal from reservoirs was investigated in the present study. After high sediment yield into the reservoir, fine sediment should remain in suspension in front of the water intake due to the pumped-storage induced turbulence. Thus, the settling process may be delayed and sediment be evacuated by the power or flushing tunnels. In prototype measurements and laboratory experiments the influence of pumped-storage operations on flow patterns as well as the settling rates and sediment balance in two interconnected reservoirs has been studied. The two approaches were completed by numerical simulations. In the lower reservoir of a pumped-storage hydropower plant in the Swiss Alps, flow velocities in front of the intake/outlet were measured by Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP). The devices with independent energy supply were implemented on the reservoir bottom and sampled 2D flow velocity profiles over several weeks. The measurements showed only local influence of pumping (outflowing water) near the intake, whereas turbine operations (inflowing water) induce large eddy flow fields in the reservoir. Depending on lake topography, patterns with backflow can appear. A frequency analysis of the discharge and flow velocity series indicated a corresponding main period between the flow velocity profiles and the in- and outflow cycles of 1 day. The ANSYS-CFD simulated flow fields corresponded to the in situ flow patterns. The computed turbulent kinetic energy input due to turbine operation was some 25 times higher than the natural input by wind-forcing. In the upstream part of the power shaft of the same hydropower scheme, a turbidity probe was installed for monitoring reasons. Over a period of eight months, sediment concentration of the operated water was continuously measured. An autonomous remote data acquisition and transfer system may be helpful for real-time monitoring by the hydropower operators. The measurements showed seasonal change of sediment concentration in the power system. In winter, high reservoir levels and ice-cover reduced sediment content, whereas in spring, snowmelt and low reservoir levels increased sediment yield. Short-term variations of sediment concentration up to 16% correlated with the in- and outflow cycles, especially for low reservoir filling. During the sampling period, about 45’000 t of…