Montana State University

Civil Engineering Department, Hydraulics Laboratory

PHoto of Hydraulics Lab

The Civil Engineering Department at Montana State University maintains the Hydraulics Lab.  The lab is and indoor wet-lab facility where stored water may be delivered to experiments involving hydraulics and fluid mechanics.  The lab occupies 1700 square feet of work space.  Potable water is stored beneath the floor in two rectangular sumps, each with 4 feet of water depth when full.  The sumps provide approximately 1700 cubic feet of water that can be pumped into a pressurized 12-inch diameter overhead steel pipe that circumnavigates the lab space.  The 12-inch pipe is large relative to most of the experiments that it supplies, providing nearly constant pressure at approximately 35 psig.  Water delivered from the overhead pipe to any experiment is returned to the sumps either directly or via a grated trough in the concrete floor.  The shared-use lab supports research and teaching activities, so the demonstrations typical to an undergraduate hydraulics course are permanently available in the facility.  The lab houses a rectangular cross-section open-channel flume that is 30 feet long by 18 inches wide by 18 inches deep with clear PVC side walls.  A low velocity-head flume to which removable hydraulic structures may be affixed is also available.   The overhead pipe has multiple outlets to which new experiments may be affixed as research needs evolve.  The submersible recirculating pump can deliver approximately 1.5 cfs to any given experiment.  Standard equipment for measuring fluid pressure (electronic transducers) and velocity (electromagnetic and acoustic Doppler velocimeters) are available and can be adapted to new experiments.  The lab is available to the campus community without charge, but with priority given to teaching activities and research in which MSU civil engineering faculty participate. 

 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bozeman Fish Technology Center

Open Channel Flume Facility

Open Channel Flume at BFTC

The BFTC houses a large open channel flume (0.9 meters width × 1.4 meters depth × 17 meters length), which is constructed of fiberglass with Plexiglass windows, and rests on a metal frame. The flume's smooth fiberglass surface, consistent slope, and straight walls and floor reduce structured turbulence, boundary layer effects and wall friction. Plexiglass windows allow for observation of hydraulics, fish behavior, and video recording. Thesize, shape and bed material of the flume can be altered, and hydraulic structures such as fishways can be placed within the flume, making it highly customizable for a variety of research applications. An array of PIT tag antennas can be utilized to track fish movement throughout experiments, and a black fabric curtain covers the flume to ensure uniform lighting and prevent disturbances to fish. On-site warm and cold water wells allow for a range of temperatures to be tested (10-20° C), while 20 and 40 Horsepower pumps supply the flume at flow rates ranging from 100 to 4000 gallons per minute.

Swimming Chamber

The swim chamber is a 185 L, Loligo Systems chamber and is supplied with air-saturated flow-through water. The test section has a cross section of 25 x 25 cm and a length of 80 cm. Flow straighteners located just upstream of the test section provided rectilinear micro-turbulent flow and an approximately uniform velocity profile. A black plastic shroud can be erected around the entire chamber to prevent disturbances to test fish. A video camera is available to record trials.