Physical modelling to study the many hydraulic issues associated with locks and navigation channels.

Hydraulics issues

Lock systems along navigation canals, in France and abroad, are hydraulic structures requiring a large number of issues to be addressed at the design stage:

  • economical use of water resources
  • time taken to pass through locks, which has a direct impact on the quantity of river traffic
  • management of sluices, during both filling and emptying
  • power of water jets passing through sluices, and consequences in terms of currents and bed scouring
  • risk of boat destabilisation while passing through locks
  • and even, in certain cases, the risk of fresh water upstream being polluted by seawater downstream!

With freight transport undergoing a gradual modal shift, canals and waterway transport have now returned to the forefront of the scene. Projects that are being developed today aim for an optimal design, in order to manage water resources as efficiently as possible, ensure complete safety for boats, and maximise traffic capacity and rates of passage through locks.

How a physical model can contribute

A physical model is a traditional tool that is still essential for studying these three-dimensional issues. In particular, it provides a means of:

  • optimising the position, design and management of aqueducts, allowing the lock chamber to be filled and emptied
  • reproducing all the successive phases of a lockage operation and analysing the time taken by each stage
  • analysing 3D currents in the lock chamber during manoeuvres
  • measuring the stresses applied to boats moored in the chamber by the filling and emptying manoeuvres
  • managing water-saving basins and their supply circuits
  • evaluating flow mixing and pollution risks
  • assessing the risk of scouring at the downstream toe of the downstream gate.