Monday, February 27, 2012

Coefficients of Contraction/Expansion at Bridges.

Written by Chris Goodell, P.E., D. WRE | WEST Consultants
Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.

In HEC-RAS, it is a well known modeling technique to increase the coefficients of contraction and expansion in the vicinity of a bridge for steady flow modeling. 
This is done to capture the energy loss resulting from increased flow contraction approaching the bridge, and increased flow expansion when leaving the bridge.  This energy loss is not accounted for in the friction loss, so HEC has added in the ability to account for it using the contraction and expansion coefficients, multiplied by the difference in velocity head between two cross sections.  Typically, RAS modelers will apply the higher coefficients (0.3 for contraction, 0.5 for expansion) at Cross Sections 4, 3, and 2 of the traditional cross section layout for bridges (see figure at the bottom of this post).  Cross Section number 1 (the most downstream of the 4-cross section layout) is typically left at the default values of 0.1 and 0.3, respectively.  imageA common question is “why is Cross Section #1 left with the default values?”
The coefficients of contraction and expansion are applied to the reach from the cross section at which they are defined to the next cross section downstream.  In the energy equation,
clip_image002, he represents the head loss from one cross section to the next.  The equation for head loss, he, is:
Where C is the coefficient of contraction or expansion.  Subscripts 1 and 2 represent the two neighboring cross sections.  So here you can see clearly that the coefficient of contraction or expansion is applied over a reach, defined by L, which is the length between Cross Sections 1 and 2.
So, for bridge modeling, the reach from Cross Section 4 to 3 defines the zone of contraction as flow approaches the bridge.  The higher coefficients are applied to Cross Section 4 in this case.
The reach from Cross Section 3 to 2 defines the fully contracted zone though the bridge.  You could make a case that since the flow is fully contracted in this zone, that the typical coefficients should be used (0.1 and 0.3).  However, since there is usually a higher amount of turbulence in this zone, traditionally everyone keeps the higher coefficients (0.3 and 0.5).  The higher coefficients are applied to Cross Section 3 in this case.
The reach from Cross Section 2 to 1 defines the expansion zone downstream of the bride.  The higher coefficients are applied to cross section 2 in this case.
At Cross Section 1 and further on downstream, the flow is considered fully expanded, so Cross Section 1 maintains the typical coefficients (0.1 and 0.3). 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to get a table of Peak Flows and Peak Stages for Unsteady Simulations

Written by Chris Goodell, P.E., D. WRE | WEST Consultants
Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.

This is a common question.  It’s often desirable to have a table of timing for peak stages and flows for dam breach models.  This allows you to track the arrival of the flood wave at all locations downstream of the dam.  However, the typical output plots in HEC-RAS are not very helpful in providing this information.  You could look at each cross section’s stage and flow hydrograph, and pick off the time for the peaks, but this can be very tedious and time-consuming.  There is a much faster way to get this information using the DSS Viewer in HEC-RAS.

Go to the DSS viewer on the main RAS window.
Once there, filter the records as follows by clicking in the blank cell at the top of each column and selecting what you want to see from the dropdown box:

Part A: Select the Reach you want to look at
Part B: Leave Blank
Part D: Leave Blank
Part E: Select MAX STAGE or MAX FLOW
Part F: Select the Plan you want to view.

Once you have the record you’re interested in, double click it in the filter table so that it is brought down to the list box at the bottom. Then highlight the record in the list box and click “Plot/Tabulate Selected Pathname(s). You should see a graph that plots out the Simulation Time for Max Flow or Stage for every cross section in the selected reach.

For peak stage…

For peak flow…

Within the DSS Plot window, select the “Table” tab to see tabular output.