The hydrodynamic pressure field is important for the design and safety of steeply sloping stepped spillways, which are typically designed for considerably lower maximum specific discharges than smooth spillways. The hydraulic performance of stepped spillways at high velocities may compromise its use due to major concern with safety against cavitation damage. Hydraulic model investigations were conducted in different large-size stepped chutes to characterize the nonaerated flow region which is potentially prone to cavitation damage and the pressure field acting on the step faces. The clear water depths and energy dissipation in the developing flow region are described in terms of integral measures of the turbulent boundary layer. Expressions for the location of and the flow depth at the inception point of air entrainment are derived. Pressure distributions on the horizontal and vertical faces of the step along the spillway are presented. Measurements indicated a different behavior of the pressure field in the aerated and nonaerated flow region. The mean and fluctuating pressure coefficients along the spillway are approximated by a regression function. The vertical face near the outer step edge close to the inception point of air entrainment is identified as a critical region for predicting cavitation inception in flow over stepped spillways. From the analysis of the pressure fluctuations in that region a maximum velocity of 15 m/s is proposed as a criterion to avoid extreme negative pressures in typical prototype steeply sloping stepped spillways, eventually leading to the occurrence of cavitation in the nonaerated flow.

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Published on 01/01/2009

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